You'd expect the Guardian to come up with something stupid on the occasion of the Dear Leader's demise, but it's more of a surprise to find this (£) in the Times today, from Simon Winchester..."Life under the Kims was grim. But at least the North has stayed true to its cultural roots":
The State’s founder, Kim Il Sung, claimed that all he wanted for North Korea was to be socialist, and to be left alone. In that regard, the national philosophy of self-reliance known in North Korea as “Juche” is little different from India’s Gandhian version known as “swadeshi”. Just let us get on with it, they said, and without interference, please.
India’s attempt to go it alone failed. So, it seems, has Burma’s. Perhaps inevitably, North Korea’s attempt appears to be tottering. But seeing how South Korea has turned out — its Koreanness utterly submerged in neon, hip-hop and every imaginable American influence, a romantic can allow himself a small measure of melancholy: North Korea, for all its faults, is undeniably still Korea, a place uniquely representative of an ancient and rather remarkable Asian culture. And that, in a world otherwise rendered so bland, is perhaps no bad thing.
Better a starving slave state, it seems, than this ghastly modern Americanised culture.
Conservative romanticism raised to a truly idiotic level.