Author Topic: Kim Jong-il is undeniably a very strange person  (Read 1541 times)


  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32874
    • View Profile
Kim Jong-il is undeniably a very strange person
« on: March 16, 2009, 02:40:06 PM »
And a tyrant, of course.

You know me. I normally scold privileged Westerners for their easy condemnation of social deformations in societies that we have helped to deform.

And I can still do that kind of analysis with North Korea, as I can with Mugabe's Zimbabwe. But sometimes, the dictators who end up running the places we ruined are even worse than you'd think they have to be, and Kim Jong-il would be one of those.

He and his father have simply ruined their own country, as Mugabe has his. He has, however, decided that North Koreans should meet Italian food.

Kim is himself a notorious gourmet. His people starve, but he has some of the most refined taste-buds in the world, or so we're told.

Anyway, this is what he's doing now:

An obsession with pizza stretching back at least 10 years prompted the isolated nation's dictator, Kim Jong-il, to authorise North Korea's first Italian restaurant, which opened in December, according to a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published in Japan. "General Kim Jong-il said that the people should also be allowed access to the world's famous dishes," the restaurant's manager, Kim Sang-Soon, was quoted as saying in Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper seen as a mouthpiece for the regime.

Those dining at the restaurant are reportedly treated to pizza and pasta made with wheat flour, butter and cheese flown in from Italy. They are also presumably reaping the benefits of a years-long effort by Kim Jong-il to bring the perfect pizza to his famine-plagued totalitarian state.

In the late 1990s, he summoned a team of Italian pizza chefs to Pyongyang to instruct army officers. One of the chefs, Ermanno Furlanis, later recounted how the Italians underwent x-rays, brain scans and urine and blood sampling on arrival, before being sequestered in a marble palace. One of the officers Furlanis was training asked him to specify the precise distance at which olives should be spaced on a pizza, he recalled.


  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13093
    • View Profile
Re: Kim Jong-il is undeniably a very strange person
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2009, 02:57:38 PM »
Sure, Western imperialism targeted all of Asia, in different ways, but I don't think Kim Jong-il's particular screw-ups are as reactive with respect to Western oppression as Mugabe's, for example. And the current Kim was never a liberation fighter. It is more a dynastic form of Stalinism, probably in that somehow reflecting Korean social history and kinship relations, though I don't honestly know enough about Korean culture to say more. (The little I do say about dynastic and very paternalistic relations derives from people I know who have taught there, some Western by background, others from Western countries but of East Asian origins).

This query must have seemed very strange to Italians:

One of the officers Furlanis was training asked him to specify the precise distance at which olives should be spaced on a pizza, he recalled.

though of course one not need travel such a geographic or cultural distance to get such misunderstandings: there were many like that between Germans and Italians when they were Fascist allies.

It is the kind of story that leads one to black humour, and I'm sure a lot of Koreans would agree, if they dare, but of course there is the very real tragedy of flying in foods when there is much malnutrition and cases of actual starvation in that country.

More ironic still, as pizza was originally poverty food, for hungry Neopolitans with nothing to eat but a bit of flour and some cheese past its prime (cheese has long been melted or cooked to save scraps and dried ends, as in Welsh Rarebit, or Heidi's grandfather cooking cheese - now gourmet raclette - by the fire).
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg


Return To TAT