May 18, 2013
N. Korea Deserves a Hard Kick for Abusing Its Soccer Team (Update)
Posted on Aug 15, 2010
By T.L. Caswell
Update on Aug. 25, 2010: FIFA Drops Probe Into N. Korea’s Alleged Abuse of Team
FIFA announced Aug. 25 it has closed its inquiry into widespread reports that North Korea punished its soccer team and coach after their poor showing at the World Cup. The decision was based at least in part on a letter from the North Korea soccer association saying that, to use FIFA’s sparse wording, there had been no “sanctions [against] the coach and that the reports on this matter were baseless.” There was no description of how or whether FIFA otherwise tried to find out whether the team and coach had been humiliated at an official event in Pyongyang. The world federation said merely that it “checked all of its sources.”
Since going into the family business, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il has developed a reputation of being one of the world’s oddest governmental leaders. But odd plainly doesn’t do justice to Kim, who matriculated in the University of Weird many moons ago and has now accumulated several advanced degrees there. Sometimes it seems that the man assiduously cultivates his image for eccentricity—albeit behind veils that cover him and his land—and indeed some geopolitical observers maintain it’s all part of a well-crafted scheme he hatched to keep other countries wondering just what the hell Dear Leader might be capable of doing in the international arena.
Many of the adjectives applied to Kim by outsiders have been less than gentle, and in 2008 some evil-minded Western academics tossed in their two cents: A couple of University of Colorado professors produced a paper headed “Is Kim Jong-il like Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler? a personality disorder evaluation.” In guessing at its conclusions you would be correct if you followed the flashing neon arrow in the study’s title. “For the personality disorders [of Kim and the two other subjects], it appears that a ‘big six’ emerged: sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal,” the authors wrote. “All three dictators also showed evidence of psychotic thought processes.”
Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch. Is that any way to talk about one whose birth, according to some of his countrymen, “was foretold by a swallow, and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow over the mountain and a new star in the heavens”?
Because Kim and his nation are so secretive, it’s hard to know what’s true about him and what’s not. Also, much of the news from the communist country comes by way of South Korea, which technically is still at war with the North, or through Radio Free Asia, which is funded in part by the U.S. Congress. So, with that caveat, read on.
A few items about Kim Jong Il’s lifestyle:
• Live lobsters were airlifted to him daily when he was traveling in his private armored train. In the 1990s when his nation was starving, he dispatched his personal chef to Japan for sushi, to Iran for caviar, to Denmark for bacon, to China for McDonald’s hamburgers. His former chef writes: “Before I cooked rice for him, a waiter and kitchen staff had to inspect it grain by grain” to ensure it was perfect.
• He has a library of more than 20,000 movies.
• He likes a good drink. Kim’s annual expenditure for Hennessy cognac is $700,000, and at a 2000 summit with South Korea’s president he was seen knocking back 10 glasses of wine. His wine cellar contains 10,000 bottles.
• He has dozens of villas.
• He and his family have a large collection of automobiles, including Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Cadillac and Lincoln models.
• He is a horseman. Those who scoff at tales of his prowess as a rider are invited to click here for visual evidence (which may or may not be genuine) that he can at least stay aboard at a gallop. In recent days Kim bought nine elite Orlov trotters from Siberia.
• He maintains a harem of comely girls known as Gippeumjo—Pleasure Brigade or Joy Division. You can check out the libidinous (and cruel) doings here.
If at this point you still have any doubt, let me clear it away: Yes, the sun does rise and set on Mr. Kim, as well it should. Is he not, as many in North Korea insist, a golfer who makes several holes in one during each round? An authority on movies and the Internet? A composer and an author who has written six operas and more than a thousand books?
And that’s just the short list. Think Superman, Einstein, Mozart, Proust and Hefner compressed into one pudgy little god-man who wears jumpsuits, platform shoes and high hair. What’s not to like about the guy?
Well, there’s one thing in particular I don’t like about the guy—beyond his alleged sinking of a foreign ship, firing a missile over a neighboring country, testing nuclear weapons, pursuing wrongheaded policy that starves people, kidnapping foreigners, belligerently thumbing his nose at the community of nations and in general being a first-class jerk (none of which is exclusive to Kim in terms of world history). I’m referring to his abuse of his own nation’s athletes.
If you say that’s small potatoes compared with North Korea’s other sins, I answer, yeah, you’re right, but the misuse of power and the transgressions against the ideals of sports and human decency are not inconsequential, and they deserve international dissemination, discussion and response.
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