So terrible it's no longer funny - lifting the veil on North Korea
|North Korea - it's no longer funny|
I have a pretty random sense of humour.
Most would call it ‘silly’ at best and ‘stupid’ at worst. It comes from making jokes that are often so obvious and lame that they have the residual effect of being slightly amusing.
The thing is, I often find really terrible events funny. Their mind-boggling stupidity or absolute inexplicability often makes me laugh.
For example, I was at a party one time talking to an American about sports. I asked him if he liked basketball to which he replied, “I do but not that much.”
“Well, there’s a lot of black guys that play basketball.”
I was gobsmacked, but not in the way that you think. You see, when I tell most people this story their mouth falls open and they gasp in horror.
Me, on the other hand? Well, I laughed myself silly.
Yes, it’s a terrible thing to say (seriously, it's the most racist thing I've ever had someone say to me), and it’s mind-bogglingly stupid.
But that’s the thing; because it’s SO stupid, I found it funny.
The problem is, I think I finally reached my limit on where the line between stupid-funny and stupid-let’s-get-up-in-arms-and-raise-some-hell finally kicked in.
The catalyst: those crazies in the East China Sea – North Korea.
I’ve always thought the North Korean regime under the late Kim Jong Il was one of the craziest regimes on the planet.
That said, because the former ‘Dear Leader’ looked like a hand puppet and was parodied superbly in Team America, I always thought of him more as a harmless and slightly-crazy weirdo, rather than the most powerful threat to the world we’ve seen since Hitler.
But my eyes were opened by this article in The Economist.
I’ll leave you to read it for yourself, but this little extract hit me pretty hard:
“In labour camps across its remote northern reaches, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea detains an estimated 150,000-200,000 political prisoners. The regime claims to hold precisely none.
Guards rape women prisoners, leading to forced abortions for the pregnant, or infanticide. Inmates are under pressure to snitch. Executions are routine—and fellow prisoners must often watch.
Consider the case of Shin Dong-hyuk, the subject of a new book (“Escape from Camp 14”). He was born of “model” prisoner parents in Camp 14, Kaechon in 1982 and spent his first 22 years inside. As punishment for dropping a sewing machine, his finger was cut off. He was also suspended over a fire, and a hook was thrust through his belly, to make him “confess” to joining an escape supposedly being planned by his mother and brother. He was then made to witness their executions.”
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t find a single syllable in what I just read ‘funny’.
To The Economist’s credit, it owns up to what the problem is: “Certainly it is easier to lampoon the regime as ruled by extra-terrestrial freaks than to grapple with the suffering it inflicts. (The Economist is guilty).”
Yes, I’m guilty too. North Korea commits almost every atrocity that you can make a law against. Whether it’s rape, torture,forced executions without trial, enslavement, North Korea is, quite possibly, the most evil empire on Earth.
So how is it that we just sit back and think of the nation as light comic relief or make fun of their fat ruler, laughing at the contrived grieving when its late leader died?
North Korea has got away for too long as the stupid joke that everyone softly chuckles at. The reality is, this regime is anything but funny.
And, oh, by the way, they’ll probably have the capability to launch nuclear weapons via missiles in the not-too-distant future too.
I don’t know about you, but this is one joke that’s no longer funny.
Even for someone with a stupid sense of humour like mine.