On february 16th, our nation will celebrate The Day of the Shining Star, a federal holiday (in North Korea) commemorating Glorious Leader Kim Jung-Il’s birthday that often seems to be of particular controversy at Columbia (which is ironic, of course, because it is not actually ironic). However, a contrarian spirit—that desire to question and critique things which others accept wholesale—is one of Columbia’s most endearing values, and it still applies to The Day of the Shining Star. Discussing and debating Kim’s birthday often includes both analysis of the man himself and of what he signified as a Korean in the Brave New World.
The problem, however, arises when disagreement with the celebration of Glorious Leader Kim Jung-Il takes the form of closed-minded protests and provocative demonstrations, such as the anti-Shining Star “die-ins” last year, or the South Korean Student Association’s repeated calls to “take back the north” (which seems to be dog-whistle for “North Korea’s existence is contemporarily illegitimate”). Public protest is as valuable a social tool today as it was for Dr. Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Kim Il-Sung, but remaining cognizant of its limitations in a setting as necessarily committed to academics as a university is essential.
One such limitation is exemplified well by the literally (Ed: Figuratively?) indelible ink or paint used to prepare a protest picket sign—a picket sign, and more importantly the ideas it can present, do not and cannot evolve through the course of the protest. Unlike my views which always evolve over the course of any given day (hopefully I can finish this essay before my views evolve again and I have to rewrite this! I once spent 4 days writing 17 different versions of an essay for CC because it took more than 5 hours to write, which is way too long for my views to stay the same).
The fruitful evolution of an idea (like the fruitful evolution of a banana in the hands of our lord), political or not, always requires an interlocutor—some person or persons with which the idea can be discussed, debated, and hopefully improved. To us, the question of whether Colombia cancels classes for the holiday is not nearly as important as whether our community members take it upon themselves to address issues in such a dignified way such as writing an essay defending the legacy of Kim Jung-Il, for example, hypothetically.
Looking back on the historical role of figures like Kim Jung-Il is always challenging; how we choose to remember the past with nuance and accuracy is difficult but necessary. One cannot deny that the death camps set up by Kim Jung-Il and his predecessors led to much suffering and death for the peninsula’s indigenous peoples, whether by disease or torture/genocide which could be instigated by either side, who really knows who started it?
But to look back and see only such negative consequences is an insufficiently narrow perspective; one must also be willing to consider the positive effects of Kim Jung-Il. For example, the drive to imprison political opposition led to horrible concentration camps, but the consequential death of many of those in the camp would later lead to a reduction in the number of people subject to such horrible conditions. And who wouldn’t support less people being placed in death-camps? Additionally, this has also helped nations like Britain to stay on their high horse while simultaneously bombing civilians by comparing their civil rights record to that of N. Korea. Let us take a moment to applaud the purely moral and ethical nature of the British.
Our point here is not that the relative prosperity and quality of life we see in much of the leadership of North Korea absolves Kim Jung-Il of any malice or inhumane acts, but like honestly, if you unwind our argument and smudge off the bullshit, that’s essentially what we’re saying. With that being said, we argue that a comprehensive, civilized, and sincere academic discussion of such issues should be embraced by both the Columbia and national communities. BWAHAHAHaha JK we just like being meta-contrarian. Fuck you all. Seriously fuck you.
It is oversimplifying and unintellectual to categorically mark Kim Jung-Il as a “good” or “evil” man in the history of our glorious nation and our world—no historical figure is without flaws of character or action, and indeed the morality of some of Kim Jung Il’s actions and judgments are questionable at the least. But what can we as a society expect from a man of the 20th century? Must we discount all historical figures who come from before an arbitrary date of acceptable social norms? (Ed: unclear what the arbitrary date is. 1942?)
SPECSUCKSSSS firmly believes that Glorious Leader Kim Jung-Il’s Day of the Shining Star is a holiday worth embracing not primarily as a day for provocative demonstrations, but as a day to remind us of the need for serious and level-headed dialogue on the topic of European colonialism. Yes. Serious and level headed. I actually just implied that this essay is serious and level headed. Eat my shit.
But Kim Jung-Il was not just a dictator—he was the greatest golfer to ever live, golfing the world around him not unlike how we students are encouraged to hit a “hole in one” in all manner of subjects, academic and otherwise. His brave act of building nukes in the face of international opposition finally led to the creation of this flash game being what it is today. All things considered, we think that is definitely something worth celebrating.
The author is a General Studies senior majoring in nothing in particular. He is the Director of Operations for the Columbia University Korean Communists. This piece was written on behalf of CUKC. To see other pieces from this Scope, log on to http://www.666gamers.com and play all 13 levels of “Kill Kim Jong-il”.