Comics won’t have Kim to kick around any more

2011-12-20 07:36

Washington – Kim Jong-il was reviled by human rights groups for jailing or starving hundreds of thousands of North Koreans and foreign diplomats abhorred his proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear sabre-rattling.

But in life and even in death, Kim, who died on Saturday at 69, was comedy gold to foreign satirists – among the few outsiders who will miss the late North Korean leader and his elevator shoes and bouffant hairstyle.

Kim and his eccentric state were a frequent butt of jokes by US television comedians, while satirical website The Onion ran a story in which Kim’s son wondered privately whether he was crazy enough to run North Korea.

“The Globe reports that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il raises money by selling fake Viagra pills. What it is about this guy? None of his missiles seem to launch,” late-night host Jay Leno once quipped after a failed North Korean rocket test.

“While emphasising that he was definitely completely insane and would likely become even more so as leader of North Korea, the younger Kim nevertheless wondered if he could ever be enough of a lunatic to truly replace the most unhinged dictator on the planet,” said The Onion of heir-apparent Kim Jong-eun.

The Onion got so much mileage out of North Korean antics and threats over the years that they marked his death with a sampler of greatest hits – with headlines like “North Korea detonates 40 years of GDP” and photos of Kim turning into a giant transformer robot.

He was also immortalised in the 2004 US film Team America: World Police in which a foul-mouthed Kim dropped UN nuclear inspector Hans Blix through a trap door to a shark pit, and declared in politically incorrect accented English: “You are worthress Arec Barrwin” (You are worthless, Alec Baldwin).

Bloggers got into the act, too, with “kim jong-il looking at things” and its sarcastic look at North Korea state media propaganda photos of Kim inspecting shops and factories in his country shared widely on Facebook after Kim’s death.

Not content to let Westerners have all the laughs, Taiwan’s Next Media Animation was quick off the mark after Kim’s death was announced with an irreverent video showing Kim partying on a train as he is plucked by the grim reaper and then bathed in barrels of nuclear waste in hell.

Even serious media took the kind of sardonic jabs at Kim that were visited upon few other authoritarian leaders – with the possible exception of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his oddball wardrobe and bizarre speeches.

In 2000, as North Korea started a cautious opening to South Korea, The Economist magazine put a waving Kim on its cover under the headline “Greetings, earthlings”.

Eleven years later, the British magazine’s Asia blog noted Kim’s death with another photo of Kim waving under the caption “Farewell, earthlings”.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.