Update: North Korean officials not permitted to pour one out for the homies (even if homie is Dear Leader)

by Gabriel Mizrahi on October 26, 2012

Today we’re serving a big old cup of random crazy from North Korea (as opposed to the fine china from which we normally sip our DPRK news). So sit down and strap in!

Photograph by Joseph A. Ferris III

First up — disturbing news from Chosun Ilbo on the execution of several high-ranking military officials:

North Korea’s vice minister of the People’s Armed Forces was among senior officers executed by firing squad early this year for drinking alcohol during the mourning period for former leader Kim Jong-il,

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it emerged Tuesday.

Which is a good reminder that while painting the town red is perfectly acceptable and aesthetically appropriate in a communist country, a vaguely defined period of mourning slash citizen espionage matters more. See, Kim Jong Un reportedly

checked on the behavior of senior party, government and military leaders during the mourning period early this year.

Because hey — everyone mourns in his own way. Some people cry. Others tell stories. And some conduct covert investigations into the affairs of military officials who really should have been crying and/or telling stories instead of sippin’ that juche juice (laid back, with my mind on my leader and my leader on my mind).

Details of the execution later emerged. Reports The Telegraph:

On the orders of Kim Jong-un to leave “no trace of him behind, down to his hair,” according to South Korean media, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and “obliterated.”

Sounds like Kim Jong Un’s been taking notes from Stewie Griffin. (Like the infant genius, Kim rose to power young.) In related news, CNN thinks that Kim Jong Un is “still a mystery:”

“We still don’t know whether or not he will follow in the footsteps of his father, or whether he represents a different kind of leadership for the future,” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted Wednesday.

Gotta love the Internet news cycle. But South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin knows better:

He described Kim as “young, meaning he may be a lot more aggressive compared to old people.” Kim is believed to be 29.

Hell hath no fury like a dictator mourned.

Item number two — The AP’s Tim Sullivan reminds us that Gone With the Wind is a massive hit in the hermit kingdom.

To come across Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 Civil War epic in North Korea is to stumble over the unlikeliest of American cultural touchstones in the unlikeliest of places.

Sullivan goes on to explain why the novel is in fact the likeliest of American classics. We believe him, grow tired. The Atlantic Wire provides much-appreciated context.

In other news,┬áneither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama mentioned North Korea in the debates. We’re not exactly a political blog, but we would like to know what the leader of the free world thinks, especially because we have 30,000 of our finest along the DMZ, and those juche rockets seem to be failing less and less these days. And because we would have had a lot more to tweet about during the debates.

But good news road warriors! North Korea’s Air Koryo has launched an online reservation system. To all of our North Korean readers tired of using travel agents (paper tickets are sooo last missile test), you can now book your rezzie and read our blog in the same browser window! Once you get a browser, of course. And the Internet. And freedom. Now that I’m thinking this through, the online portal is probably for the Chinese businessmen striking those JVs.

Reuters reminds us that

Air Koryo is the only airline ranked as a one-star service by Skytrax global airline ranking, a rating that represents “very poor quality performance”.

Which I have to say is unfair. I’ve been treated worse by United Airlines in the U.S. than I have by Air Koryo in North Korea. (United Airlines: Take note. When Orwell Airlines beats you on service, it’s time to change.) I was actually pretty impressed with Air Koryo. Impressed that the aircraft could actually take off and land, but still, impressed. I mean, it was actually pretty fun! One day I’ll have to do a breakdown of the Air Koryo experience. I’ll write about the empty field with makeshift building airport and the complimentary propaganda in-flight literature. I’m surprised I haven’t done that yet; it was by far one of the coolest parts of the trip. I’m going to stop typing now because this is becoming a transcript of my inner monologue. But you can look forward to that breakdown. Soon!

Nothing like a familiar face to greet you at the airport. Photograph by Gabriel Mizrahi

RIP Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Kim Chol. DPRK-philes the world over will no doubt be pouring one out for this obliterated homie.

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