Thursday, May 10, 2007

Age of wonders: A North Korean Bush joke

The author of a post on a Hong Kong journalism student site seemed mostly concerned with the affront to American dignity, but I found this story both marvelous and encouraging ...
International News (JMSC 0042): North Korea general tells Bush joke

When military chiefs from the two Koreas met on Tuesday for talks, a general from the North, Kim Yong-chol, started off by telling a joke about Bush on the internet.

He then retold the joke about Bush who goes out jogging one morning and as Bush is preoccupied with international affairs, fails to notice that a car is heading straight at him.

A group of schoolchildren pull the president away just in time, saving his life, and a grateful Bush offers them anything they want in the world as a reward. However, the children ask for a reserved place for them in the Arlington Memorial Cemetery. Bush asks them why.

“Because our parents will kill us if they find out what we’ve done.”
Incidentally, it's funny, albeit a bit politically improper. Bush isn't run over, the children are fine, and it's a variation on a very old and well established joke.

Much more importantly, we see that Kim Yong-chol is rather well connected. He (or one of his intelligence people) reads jokes off the internet, knows Bush is very unpopular in the US, and he tells a joke that's a bit chancy but is quite topical.

Why is this good news? Remember the common American perception that North Korea is full of delusional madmen cut-off from reality. That's clearly not true at a fairly senior level. The more they know about the world, the less likely they are to do something that will work against their own best interests. And if North Korean knows its own best interests, then there's a lot that can be done ...

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