Paul  Kengor
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Compounding the obscenity is this tragic truth: no modern people have been so repressed and persecuted. North Koreans experienced a government-induced famine where two-to-three million people (10-15 percent of the population) starved to death from 1995-98. The place is a living, breathing (actually, dying) tragedy. At its apex sat Kim, whose omnipresent face and figure literally hovered above the masses in murals and statues and screens.

I recall one day watching a C-SPAN broadcast of U.S. senators returning from a fact-finding trip to this prison state. It was one of the first overseas trips of Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who had replaced Bob Dole. Roberts was asked what term he would use to classify the North Korean regime, perhaps “Stalinist,” maybe “totalitarian,” or simply “communist?” I’ll never forget Roberts’ response: He quickly said “theocracy.”

Yes, very good. This viciously atheistic regime that pursued a classic communist war on religion was devoutly religious itself. Ironically, it had not banned religion; it had nationalized it, centralized it, redistributed it—all in the form of Kim Jong-Il. Just as North Korea’s communist government had taken over all industry, all agriculture, and even all crime, it had also seized all faith.

When Whittaker Chambers once commented on the ultimate crime of communists, he explained that they had grossly repeated humanity’s original mistake: “Ye shall be as Gods.”

Ah, in that sense, Kim was indeed “Edenic.”

Kim Jong-Il presented himself to his suffering people as their god and their salvation. Instead, he was their downfall. He was the worst embodiment of the fall of man, and he in turn felled a nation and a people in the ugly process.

Christmas is no time for false messiahs. The worst of them, Kim Jong-Il, spent this season no longer among the living. His people can rest in peace. I have a strong suspicion Kim is not. This Christmas time, little old Kim finally had some explaining to do. He is at long last accountable for his sins.

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