L. Neil Smith's

Number 15, October 1, 1996.

Kim the Merciless

By Vin Suprynowicz

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         How brainwashed are the pitiable toadies of one of the world's last remaining Communist slave states, North Korea?
         It's not bad enough that -- with their people literally gleaning weeds and turning over rocks in search of small, crawling protein sources to fend off starvation -- the North Korean government is still wasting money sending armed submarines to sea.
         It's not bad enough that 13 of the 20 occupants of the North Korean submarine that drifted onto a reef in South Korean waters Sept. 16 were not crewmen, but rather armed spies with orders to infiltrate South Korea.
         What's positively weird is that of those 20 sailors and would-be spies, only one surrendered, while eight or so apparently attempted to fight their way back across the border into their stripped-bare workers' paradise. And from all indications, 10 of the 11 who were found dead in a small mountain clearing Wednesday submitted docilely to being shot in the head by their leader, who then completed the suicide pact by taking his own life.
         The mind boggles. This bunch might as well be from the Mad Planet Mongo. That soldiers indoctrinated from birth to believe the doctrines of Marxism will fight and kill for that cause is hardly news. But by committing suicide rather than face the horrors of being captured by the capitalists, these tragic figures tell us more about the insularity and twisted belief structure of their homeland than we could hope to glean from any quantity of satellite surveillance.
         Faced with a turn of events which granted these creatures the unexpected opportunity to escape a land of moral and political -- as well as corporeal -- deprivation, the rational mind could easily have understood their raising their hands and crying out, "We surrender, where's the K Mart?"
         Instead, suicide.
         Science fiction novelist L. Neil Smith suggested a few years back that the best solution to the conundrum of the still-dangerous armed slave camp of North Korea is to bomb them ... with radios. Air drop glossy, color mail-order catalogues demonstrating to these poor benighted modern-day cavemen the real fruits of the free market.
         Of course, those scornful of things material will scoff that there are higher values than the ability to order a stainless steel apple-peeler by mail (though surely few on these shores would object to an economic system which, at a minimum, provides the average man or woman with an affordable apple.)
         That's what the radios would take care of. (Any that exist now in such nation-sized slave camps, of course, have the tuning knob locked in position so as to receive only the government propaganda channel.)
         Ethical debates? Political pluralism? Advertisements for air travel around the world without any qualifying loyalty test? Competing religions allowed to purchase air time? Reporters exposing government corruption, and voters demanding recounts or recalls, all without fear of that midnight knock on the door?
         What on earth would they make of it?
         They say that inmates who have spent too many years behind bars are actually afraid of open spaces, and have been known to withdraw in shock from the noise and tumult of the marketplace.
         Anecdotes are told of elderly Soviet relatives, brought to these shores during the "openness" of the 1970s by younger relatives who finally "made it" and wanted to share their blessings, actually returning home because they found even the act of shopping in America too loud and boisterous an assault on their senses, having been accustomed by decades of necessity to standing quietly in cold, slow-moving lines of gray people in gray clothing, hoping to receive their weekly ration of flour and lard, without any necessity of ever "deciding" between brands or package sizes, let alone being subjected to the robust sensual assault we know as "advertising."
         The official policy of the United States to date (we will deal with the CIA and the School of the Americas, perhaps, at a later date) has been to work for the spread of liberty, and the elimination of repressive police states, wherever possible.
         In all likelihood, some environmentalist will soon propose that a few last pockets of communism be retained, somewhere on the earth, like the refuges we now set aside for any other endangered species.
         At first glance, that would appear to be too cruel.
         But just maybe, when it comes to those in charge of such soul-destroying loony bins ...

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.

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