Thursday, February 23, 2012

Success and Succession

Determining the order of succession in the new secretive North Korean government of Kim Jong-un, the son of the recently deceased Kim Jong-il is as difficult as discovering the elusive Higgs Boson. As you may recall the Higgs Boson is the tiny particle that scientists have been seeking out for over 40 years. Recently, teams of particle physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva discovered some very encouraging results which would as Columbia physicist Brian Greene recently said in a Times Op-Ed piece, “complete an essential chapter in our quest to understand the basic components of the universe.” (“Waiting for the Higgs Particle, NYT, 12/14/11). So little in fact is known about the North Korean leadership that like understanding the Higgs particle, it would involve in Greene’s words “a rewriting of the very definition of nothingness.” One other thing that the North Korean leadership has in common with the Higgs particle is that any sightings tend to be short-lived. “Finding this particle would be no easy task,” Greene went on to comment. “The Higgs particle would be short-lived, quickly decaying into other, more familiar particles.” Doesn’t that too seem the problem when it comes to determining the ephemeral coterie of officials surrounding around both Kim Jong-il and his anointed successor Kim Jong-un. “Identifying the mourners and absentees in the world’s most closed society is one of the few ways available to outsiders trying to solve the mystery of the unfolding succession in Pyongyang,” Choe Sang-Hun said in a recent Times piece (“Buzz Over Who’s Not in the North Korean Picture(s),” NYT, 12/22 /11). Is it too far a stretch to think that Angela Landsbury could be brought back to reprise the evil mother she played in Manchurian Candidate to play the role of Kim Ok who Choe Sang-Hun described as “one of Jim Jong-il’s closest aides.” According to Sang-Hun, Kim Jong-un is “the second son of Kim Jong-il’s third wife” and Kim Ok is now serving “as the North’s de facto first lady since Kim Jong-un’s mother died in 2004.” Yes we are going from West to East from the extreme right to the extreme left (and beyond), but in our quantum universe where a particle can be in two different places at the same time, nothing is surprising. Lawrence Harvey played Landsbury’s son (Raymond Shaw) in Manchurian Candidate and if he were alive, he would have been the perfect person to play the role of the handsome but baffled looking Kim Jong-un, whose mother Ko Young-hee was a prominent North Korea Opera star. The wild card according to Sang-Hun’s story is Kim Jong-nam (no relation to Viet), the hapless oldest son of Kim Jon-il and the product of KJi's marriage to his first wife who “fell out of favor and was alone in Moscow when she died.” Sang-Hun reports that there were rumors Ko Young-hee, the opera star, had been behind a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-nam who “now lives in effective exile in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macao.” Hopefully, by the time the existence of the Higgs Boson is finally confirmed, more will be revealed about who’s who in Pyongyang.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

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