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Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist,
author and a popular speaker. Born into a military
family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East
Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces
service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross
of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation
from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both
the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive
for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work,
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is
based in large part on his extensive experience in
Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman.
[go to Cucullu index]
The madness of North Korea…
[Gordon Cucullu] 1/19/05
Kim Jong Il regime of North Korea, fully exercising its right
published a detailed handbook for
its citizens to prepare for an upcoming nuclear attack by the
United States. Citizens are instructed to dig bunkers, stock
them with food (albeit not much as supplies are limited), water,
and – most importantly – to bring all portraits,
photos, busts, statuettes, and other images of the Dear Leader
and the deceased Great Leader into the bunker with them. Cover
them with your bodies if you must, when the bombs come, but protect
them at all costs!
A satirist would have frantic North Koreans upending drawers
to search for that missing Dear Leader key chain that Dad picked
up at the convenience store or the plastic dashboard statue of
the Great Leader given as a door prize at the last lodge meeting.
Mom would be fanning pages of books for any Dear Leader trading
cards sacrilegiously stuffed in as bookmarks. It would be funny
if it were not so tragic.
You see, outside of
the country we simply cannot fathom the depth of control, intensity
of the cult of personality, and degree
of abject fear imposed by the Kim Jong Il regime on the hapless,
oppressed people of North Korea. In the West, especially in America,
even post-911, we still live in a protected world. We get upset
if restaurant service is tardy. We fume at the grocer if we don’t
have unlimited choices of cereal, peanut butter, fresh vegetables
and fruits, and exactly the cut and quantity of meat that we
need for that dinner party. We assume that a gas station will
be conveniently located nearby when we run short, that we can
see a physician when we get sick, and that any meds he prescribes
will be available at one of several drug outlets.
We want unlimited
choices on the radio, television, and print media. We are vocally
critical of the government, especially
on foreign policy. After all, we know in our hearts that being
Secretary of State can’t be that hard, can it? What do
they do over there anyway besides serve punch and cookies? Internationally
we think that everyone ought to like us – after all, we’re
really nice people, aren’t we? Furthermore, we expect that
all of these people will share our values, especially the materialistic
values. We like having stuff, services, and the good life. And,
when given the chance, so do many of our fellow humans around
the world. But not all of them.
For some individuals power trumps all. Not simple power that
they exercise for a bit then turn over to a successor. Not power
that originates from God through the people. But absolute power.
Power beyond simple, individual life and death decisions. They
crave the power to control masses of human beings, to dictate
their life or death, and to decide the fate of nations. Such
power is addictive. Mere to maintain stability requires increasingly
large doses the way a crack addict wants more and more powerful
doses in order to experience the high. This is the kind of power
that has been in the grasp of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il since
1945. The power lust characterizes every dictator regardless
of political stripe. When they obtain it the mere holding is
insufficient to satisfy their demands. They always push the power
to the limits and beyond. In so doing they inevitably commit
crimes against their own people; crimes against humanity.
Rarely does power
come in such large, raw doses as the Kims have experienced
in almost six decades of unchallenged rule in
North Korea. The world ignores or diminishes North Korea as a
backwater, an aberrant state with an eccentric ruler, distant
and detached from the daily business of life. But the magnitude
of the atrocities committed by Kim Jong Il demands a more penetrating
look. Recognize that even the most controlling, heinous dictators
in history would envy Kim Jong Il. Even in Stalin’s Soviet
Union there existed a dissident movement. In Hitler’s Germany
there were many who opposed him, and even some resistance movements.
Communications with the outside world, though difficult and limited,
were possible. Information flowed in these countries even though
much of it was heavily laden with propaganda, distortion, and
lie. Not even a little bit of this happens in North Korea.
The oppressed, abused people of North Korea suffer from a dearth
of communications that mocks what the world now calls the information
age. Take away government controlled radio, press and television
and information exchange in North Korea returns instantly to
the medieval level: word of mouth and scrawled notes on torn
paper. Radios and televisions come with government-approved frequencies
locked in. Possession of a radio capable of picking up South
Korean, Japanese or other foreign stations is a capital offense
as is ownership of a cellular telephone. Some telephones are
smuggled in from China. Their owners risk terrible retribution
from a state obsessed with absolute control.
Absolute control of
information is an essential tool that enables the Kim Jong
Il regime to keep the population in lockstep. Since
this is axiomatic for all dictatorships, one of the most effective
means of undermining a rogue regime is to give its people access
to truth, open discussion, and reasonable dissent. Reports from
the survivors of the Iron Curtain days in Eastern Europe always
include strong endorsements of broadcasts by agencies such as
Radio Free Europe, BBC and others. We hear the same from Cuban
refugees. One measure of the effectiveness of the broadcasts – and
of free flow of information as a threat – is the ferocity
and vitriol that dictators direct toward the stations. Watch
dictators react: if broadcasts weren’t bothersome, tyrants
would ignore them.
We must devise ways to infiltrate information into North Korea.
It ought to be a high priority on this Axis of Evil regime. Only
the truth will save the poor citizens of North Korea who have
considerably less to fear from a contrived rumor of an American
attack than they do from an egomaniacal monster who reveres his
own graven image more than human life. tRO
In addition to his Asian credentials, Gordon was the security
assistance desk officer for El Salvador and Central America in
the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1981-1984. Gordon’s
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin became
the Evil Twin, is drawing good comments. Gordon is scheduled
to speak at the Flushing Library, Queens, NY on January
15 at 2 pm, public invited.
Gordon Cucullu 2005