In order to commemorate the ten-day anniversary of Gloriously Benevolent Patriarch Kim Jong Il’s departure from China (newly proclaimed happiest country in the world), we’d like to bring you some must-see CCTV News footage that details the Dear Leader’s trip in full.
There were plenty of reasons why Kim went on his third visit to China in 13 months. There was the renewed push from China for Kim to restart six-party denuclearization talks. There was expert surveying and inspection of whether this state capitalism really is the business in Jilin, Jiangsu and Heilongjiang. And there’s also a likelihood that Kim asked for a few arms, or even a Benz or two.
Maybe Lil’ Kim just needed to get out of the house. 8 of the 9 members of the Politburo, including Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao and president-in-waiting Xi Jinping, welcomed Kim with handshakes and a lavish dinner at tables decorated with exquisite birds carved out of carrots and other assorted tubers.
But there are essential truths that can only be gleaned from a close visual examination of what exactly went down during Kim’s six-day tour last week.
Though Hu Jintao greeted Kim with a cheek-grazing hug, proving that the adage about China and the DPRK being as close as ‘lips and teeth’ is no understatement, Wen Jiabao and Xi Jinping’s reception of Kim was far more subdued.
Tight smiles are a constant throughout both Xi and Wen’s interactions with Kim. At 5:16, Wen grins flatly like a man trying to convince others that socks for Christmas were just what he wanted. And while Li Changchun and Zhou Yongkang pump Kim’s hand vigorously during the meet-and-greet, Xi noticeably picks up Kim’s hand for a short flick before dropping it again at 3:47 in the video.
Such is a perfect illustration of the ambivalent conundrum the Chinese leadership finds themselves in. While China and North Korea are old pals who remember their former status as Cold War outcasts on the world stage, the Chinese leadership remains frustrated that the economic development of the country remains stalled. The very real possibility of the DPRK collapsing would mean scores of Korean refugees crossing the Yalu river into the mainland, something China definitely wants to avoid.
The speeches around Soviet Neoclassic halls and dinner tables (at 4:01) are a miracle of inexpressiveness. No one looks the slightest bit glad to be present. Two super long pans around the dinner table beginning at 4:26 show the Chinese leadership all sternly thinking, ‘This asshole Kim better not start World War III’.
For his part, the Sun of the Communist Future (aka Shining Star of Paektu Mountain, Bright Sun of the 21st Century, and Amazing Politician) hit all the right notes in this fine piece of political theater. Decked out in his obligatory pseudo-militaristic khaki leader-costume, Kim seemed like a worn-down caricature of himself, with his once-full mane of hair now a wispy tumbleweed perched atop his head. One of his flunkies will have to muster the courage to suggest hair restoration technology for the Dear Leader, a trick which China’s oligarchs learned to do a long time ago.
And at the video’s 3:37 mark, a translator accompanying Hu and Kim can be seen visibly reeling from the Sun of Socialism’s halitosis, the smell likely resembling dog meat and caviar.
The miracle of modern production facilities
However, the real action begins at 6:20 in the clip, when the leaders and their retinues are taken on the grand tour of advanced mass production facilities and model worker housing units. This is where the true measure of Kim can be taken, nodding along in his wraparound shades, taking in the miniature models of housing developments as their LED-lights blinker on and off. The Dear Leader seemed especially enamored with tablet computers and plasma screens he could run his finger over, at one point (7:15) poking a touchscreen panel for ten straight seconds, with the slightest of smiles even cracking across his esteemed visage at 7:25. Something tells us that the man would love a Jesus Tablet.
Our favorite moment in the entire clip comes at 6:54, when Kim visits a supermarket and gets shown a gallon of cooking oil, which he duly pats. As if to declare, ‘Yep, that’s good oil right there.’
Throughout the proceedings, there’s a palpable sense of pleading and earnestness from the Chinese leadership, who look to be desperately trying to get a hint across to Kim. All of this could be yours, their eyes seem to say. Please believe us when we tell you that market capitalization really is the way to go.
Wistful longing for a state-capitalist future
For all the absurdity and farce in Kim’s latest trip to China, there remains a pervasive sadness to the whole affair. The Dear Leader looks utterly frail, a doddering old man with a slight limp (visible at 1:12) who missed the boat of global economic modernization.
Ah, but at least he’ll always have China. During the great sendoff at Beijing Station, Politburo member Jia Qinglin holds on to Kim with both hands, and looks like he’s trying to tell the Amazing Politician that if he EVER needs ANYTHING, just please, please, don’t hesitate to call. Jia even bows slightly as he and the rest of the Chinese leadership wave their goodbyes as Kim’s train pulls away, the Clown Prince needing to make leave of his only friends in the whole world, back home once again to his own private Hermit Kingdom.