If you haven’t seen these blogs yet, you should take a look. It started with Kim Jong-il Looking at Things and has now progressed to Kim Jong-un Looking at Things after the “Dear Leader’s” death. It is quite simple. It is a collection of hundreds of photos of Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un looking at various things: fish, sailors, rice, etc. This simple collection has amassed an extensive following due to its reactions from the American public. It is rather humorous. Here are few to enjoy:
You get the idea. Hundreds of people “like,” reblog, and comment on each of these photos. The Facebook following for Kim Jong-un is 3,411 (9/6/12) and for Kim Jong-il is 56,105 (9/6/12). The popularity of this collection of photos is incredible. After years of watching the erratic behavior of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), it astounds me that these comedic blogs have more following than the effort to reveal a vast, terrifying prison camp system that exists in the DPRK. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’ll let you decide.
I wondered what others who are aware of the nature of DPRK regime thought of the popularity of these blogs. The question posed to them was: What do you think the implications are in America of the popularity of the Kim Jong-un Looking at Things and the Kim Jong-il Looking at Things blogs?
Dave: “There are two effects. It makes a spectacle of an authoritarian political figure. It’s a good thing because it demystifies the power that he (Kim Jong-un) actually holds as a political leader and makes him appear silly and childish. It is borderline satire. Simultaneously, it reinforces an attitude that the country is not threatening. It washes over the more important political issues.”
Jana: “There’s a positive and negative side. The positive side is that people start to think about these people when they never paid attention before. The negative side is that it could make something that’s a more serious thing in our world into something that people just laugh about. Overall, it’s good to make fun of things though.”
Danhi: “People will take these serious issues as a joke. It will fuel the opinions of people who look down on North Korea. But it might turn people’s attention to North Korea and maybe they will turn around and look more into the issues, but I doubt that it will happen. It detracts from the issues at hand.”
There seems to be a general consensus among Korea watchers that there are both positive and negative aspects of the popularity of these blogs. Some lean more one way than the other, but it is something to think about. Do we as the American public know enough about this regime? If we can laugh at these images, surely we would at least be curious as to what sort of role these leaders play? Ignorance of the issues in the DPRK is tragic and hopefully the popularity of these blogs can help alleviate the problem, but this can’t be done without curiosity in the first place. Does humor outweigh curiosity? Can they not mutually exist? I hope they can.