By Michael Ardaiolo
Yet another Kim Jong-Un Photoshop meme is gaining momentum on the web. Microblogs are providing ample stage time for lobbing jokes at North Korea following the recent pun-friendly failed missile launch. On the other hand, there are serious human rights atrocities happening daily in the DPRK. Where do we draw the line between humor and moral negligence?
On one side of the coin, North Korean society and their leaders have become totally alien to contemporary culture after more than 50 years of isolation. Their actions are increasingly easy to ridicule, because they are completely incomprehensible to an outsider’s state of mind. The official photos are almost as easy targets as the candid ones.
Add to that the latest
Great Leader Supreme Leader Young General does, admittedly, look a lot like The Simpsons’ Üter Zörker, and humor often feels like the only human reaction available of which to respond.
The other side, of course, is that the blatant human rights violations of the North Korean regime should never, ever be taken lightly. The atrocities being committed are increasingly documented and distributed, so ignorance is definitely not an excuse. Regardless, for ordinary citizens from any walk of life, it is hard to gauge the proper reaction. As The Economist succinctly put it, “Perhaps the scale of the atrocity numbs moral outrage.”
Luckily, there is an outlet for most any reaction. Need a clever quip from the mouth of Kim himself? Well, you have @KimJongNumberUn. Rather leave the jokes behind for serious journalistic reporting? Then, check out these books or these academic reports. Fall somewhere in between? Well, you have this DPRK-based novel or, of course, Weibo.