I share John Tabin’s sentiments regarding the passing of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. I will reserve my sympathies and laments for those who have died under his rule and that of his father Kim Il-Sung as well as those who will very likely to continue to suffer under North Korea’s new twenty-something ruler, Kim Jong-Un.
Unfortunately, the plight of North Koreans doesn’t get the attention it warrants because of the closed nature of their society. Westerners seldom see what goes on north of the DMZ. John wisely cites the words and wisdom of two good men who just left this world – Vaclav Havel and Christopher Hitchens with regard to the totalitarian evil in that country. In the case of Hitchens, he was one of the few Westerners who have seen North Korea first hand.
I would also recommend Kang Chol-Hwan’s The Aquariums of Pyongygang. Kang and his family spent a decade in the Yodok concentration camp. After his release, Kang defected to South Korea via China in 1992. After reading The Aquariums of Pyongyang, President George W. Bush made the book required reading for his Cabinet and invited Kang to meet with him at the White House in June 2005.