This is the story of Uncle Sung-taek and Uncle Omar, two men with nothing in common except their proximity to power due to the randomness of marriage and the accident of birth. Yet their lives unwittingly serve as the perfect example of the political realities of their respective countries.
Uncle Sung-taek enjoyed a life of power, privilege and prestige unlike nearly anyone else in his oppressive little country – that is, until his nephew, Jong-un, fed him to 120 ravenous canines. Or perhaps that’s just some sick satire and Uncle Sung-taek was actually eliminated in the more traditional, yet boring, and tyrannical manner of being tortured and then shot to death. Though we are not really certain of the details, one thing is agreed upon: Uncle Jang Sung-taek won’t be present at this year’s family reunion. That such a macabre rumor of Uncle Jang’s doggy demise could even be open to debate reveals much about the bizarre day-to-day reality of his once homeland. But, then, Uncle Jang Sung-taek’s homeland was North Korea and his nephew was the monstrous little Kim Jong-un. What had begun as a love story between Jang and Jong-un’s aunt, Kim Kyung-hui, turned into a nightmare much in the same way the promise of “hope and change” has now turned into the reality of Obamacare and a myriad of Presidential scandals and executive orders. But that’s the inevitable end of all things Communistic.
For Uncle Omar, life had once seemed full of promise. As a teenage boy he had become somewhat of a soccer phenomenon after following in his big brother’s footsteps all the way from Kenya to America. But for some reason, Omar got off track, dropped out of school, ignored a deportation order, ran up bills he didn’t pay, and then seemingly vanished. He resurfaced on August 24, 2011 when he was arrested in Framingham, Massachusetts, for drunk driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.14 which was nearly twice the state limit of 0.08. Uncle Omar had nearly crashed into a police cruiser, then became belligerent when questioned and denied he had been drinking. District Attorney Gerry Leone had vowed to pursue a criminal case because of the threat that drunk drivers pose to the community. But then everything changed because of nine little words that Uncle Omar said to the police – “I think that I will call the White House.” You see, Uncle Omar has a nephew named Barack Obama, Jr. Needless to say, things turned out much, much better for Uncle Omar than they did for Uncle Sung-taek. At his immigration hearing, Judge Leonard I. Shapiro granted Omar Obama legal residency based on what he said was his good moral character and a section of federal law that allows him to get a green card because he arrived before 1972. Sometimes it really does seem to be “who you know” that makes all the difference.
So what do the stories of these two completely different men reveal about the political realities of their respective countries? It reveals that the iron-fisted dictatorship of North Korea has much more in common with a post-Constitutional America than we would like to admit.
- The “Rule of Law” is no more than a leader’s whim. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has only to speak a law into existence. The individual health and well-being of all citizens is subject to the dictator’s command. Kim Jong-un can call for the “removal” of anyone who gets in his way, be they a family member, a professing Christian, or even an old girlfriend. Barack Obama, at least for the time being, is forced to make use of a pen and a phone. But with that pen and phone Obama signs Executive Orders at will, such as rewriting immigration policy, creating “kill lists,” or cutting and pasting Obamacare mandates.
- “Official” history can be “officially” changed. Not only will poor old Uncle Jang no longer serve as an assisting member of the North Korean leadership, he has literally been airbrushed out of existence in official documentaries and news reports. Not to be outdone, Uncle Omar has himself mastered the “now you see me – now you don’t” trick. But in Omar’s case it’s more of a “back then you claimed you had never seen me, but now you admit you did.” At first Barack Obama claimed he had never met this so-called uncle, much less knew that he was an illegal alien living right here in the country where Barack now serves as Commander in Chief. But, as family members will tend to do, Uncle Omar let the cat out of the bag when he stated at his trial that not only had he had contact with his nephew, but college student Barry had actually lived with his uncle for three weeks while attending Cambridge. The White House quickly took the fall for the “misstatement” by explaining that yes, after they actually asked the President, it did turn out that Omar’s version of events was the one based in reality.
- The rules are different for “us” and “them.” Before Uncle Jang’s fall from grace, he lived a life unimaginable for his fellow countrymen in its wealth, extravagance, and pleasure. The rules literally did not apply to him. Though to a much lesser degree, Uncle Omar discovered the same was true for him. With his one phone call to the White House Omar was able to avoid a DUI conviction while simultaneously being awarded with amnesty and citizenship all in one fell swoop. One cannot help but wonder if there is an ambassadorship in Omar Obama’s future.
- The worst crime is to fall out of favor with the “dear leader.” Uncle Jang “was accused of a litany of crimes including not clapping enthusiastically enough, putting a monument to Kim Jong-il in a shaded corner rather than bright sunlight, and ‘dreaming different dreams’.” In addition, Jang was “charged with ‘creating illusion about himself,’ to ‘committing irregularities and corruption that led to a dissolute and depraved life,’ having ‘improper relations with several women’ and ‘squandering foreign currency at casinos.’ In other words, Uncle Jang aspired to be the Bill Clinton of North Korea. Unless Uncle Omar goes out and does something his nephew Barack finds morally reprehensible like joining the Tea Party or endorsing Ted Cruz for President, he will most likely escape Uncle Jang’s extreme fate, but he still probably will never get an invite to one of the frequent White House shindigs.
- “Legitimate” news outlets serve as an unofficial branch of the government. Months after the execution of Uncle Jang there are still a myriad of unanswered questions which will certainly go forever unanswered. So, too, will questions about Uncle Omar, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, NSA spying, IRS targeting and a host of other issues and concerns. That is the sad state of affairs in countries where the “free press” is only free to print what those in power wish to see. It seems in neither country do those who buy ink by the barrel wish to face the consequences of falling into disfavor with “dear leader.”
- There is no way of knowing the lengths to which unbridled power will go. As George Washington said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” The government of North Korea is a raging wildfire unpredictable in its path and illogical in its twists and turns. The government of our own nation, now unmoored from the limiting confines of a Constitution, is still a ways from such extreme despotism but grows more out of control with each stroke of the Executive pen.