• Daniel Ethan Finneran

On The Pretty Face of Tyranny

May 2020

A pretty face, especially one in the first blush of its developing youth, is a charm to which we Americans are fatally susceptible. After years of observation, nearly two decades of analysis and careful notes, it’s a diagnosis of which I’m assured. It’s the Achilles’ heel by which a country of aesthetes, a country such as ours, is terribly hobbled, the soft underbelly of a once-rugged nation into which, with little effort, a small finger can puncture and tear a hole. In time, I’ve come to realize that it’s a unique susceptibility to which, despite our national pharmacopeia of endless drugs, we haven’t an effective antidote. We haven’t a sobering pill, a clarifying vaccine by which we might preemptively be saved, an antivenin by whose timely consumption we might be cleansed.

One can’t help but ask why we’ve abandoned all efforts directed toward such a remedy’s development? One can’t help but wonder how it is that we, an allegedly intellectual and sapient people of the highest class and the strongest spirit, are still enamored of an appealing ignis fatuus, a young and meretricious grin?

With a specious smile and a lambent flickering of the eye, that pretty face can, and likely will, be the future death of us all—for we’ve become a supine and unresisting nation. We’ve become a people into whose veins the dual poisons of effeminacy and a “victimhood” mentality have been so copiously bled. As such, not only our vital humors, but our constitutions have been changed. We are not what once we were.

That face, of whose mere glance these changes are a result, is an image to whose appeal we enjoy, despite the proud state of our full-stomachs and enviable good health, no real immunity. When we see that sublime mixture of efflorescence and confidence, that combination of vivacity, poise, and delectable, ripening youth, we’re very nearly overcome with an admiration of which we simply can’t shake ourselves. We’re entirely besotted. We feel in our bosom an odd sensation of enchantment and blind trust, a feeling of which only prettiness is productive, irrespective of the mind by which that comely face is made to move.

At this point, early though it may be, we know not what occupies the mind of Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister (and perhaps successor) of the North Korean tyrant, Kim Jong-un. We haven’t a clue if she—like the brother, father, and grandfather out of whose virile lineage she’s so recently and anomalously emerged—is equally persuaded by the inherent brilliance of totalitarian rule. We don’t know what conversation chatters in the social, economic, political, and literary corners of her stilled lips and unforthcoming brain. We don’t know if she too, like the masculine forebears by whom she’s been preceded, took to heart the teachings of the master Orwell, of whose Oceania and Eastasia her own country is so frighteningly reminiscent. We don’t know if, given the chance, she’d accede the North Korean throne (a vacancy in which so plump a royal posterior was only just recently seated) and continue the oppression of an immiserated and wretched land.

What we do know, however, and with an encouraging sense of reassurance and ease, is that she is a pretty woman. About this, there’s little doubt and, in this, we take much comfort. Odious she may yet prove to be, she’s pulchritudinous in the here and now, and that’s really all that matters. The imminent femme fatale is, at least at the present moment, nothing worse than an attractive diplomatist in whom we can invest our peace-loving dreams. She’s a soft and fresh representative of a hardened caste, a small, ossified elite through whose shell we’ve been unable to break. It’s shown no signs of fraying, no rupturing at its seams. Kim Yo-jong , pretty and pliable, might be amenable to giving way.

Her attraction is a fact of which, superficial though it may be, the western world became conscious but a few years ago. It was then, during the politically-tempestuous Winter Olympics of 2018, that she first appeared on television before the world. North Korea, the nation over which her brother presided and South Korea, that from which, at the fifty-third parallel, hers has been so long separated, joined in a sporting delegation of one. It was the first time in the nations’ schismatic history that such a partnership had been forged. It had, at the very least, an aroma of real progress and an affectation of goodwill. Latent empathy appeared to be bubbling to the surface. These might be feelings, the world hoped, of which the games would be not only temporarily productive, but assured for years to come.

From the start, the venture was inauspicious, considering the dearth of athletic talent of which the barren and malnourished northern half of that peninsula is possessed. Little was expected of their graceless mountain skiers and diminutive hockey players, but that wasn’t the point. The only success for which the North was hopeful was Kim Yo-jong’s entrée into the public eye. In that peculiar category, the one nation completely innocent of talent was awarded a gold.

Doubtless, she left an impression. To put it mildly, her appearance was one about which, for the duration of the games and for some time thereafter, the western media was positively enthused. She was profiled from every angle and in every appealing way. Every newspaper covered her emergence, every opinion website the immaculate quality of her feminine grace. Very few writers considered her a potentially dangerous leader, a probably complicit executioner, about whose great prettiness and diplomatic tact they might, if able, speak just a bit more reticently. Those thoughts could be stifled for a later time—a time at which, it seems, we’ve now arrived.

Misbegotten though it may be, it’s the belief of the international community that Kim Jong-un is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Chronologically young while physically aged, Kim Jong-un is said to have died of an unknown cause—a cause to which, inflamed with the heat of rampant speculation, the Wuhan Coronavirus is said to have been a contributor. The veracity of this report is yet unconfirmed, yet—be it not spurious but true—it would open to his little sister Kim Yo-jong a ready path to her early accession.

Perhaps, though, she actually wouldn’t be the recipient of the fawning honorific, Dear Leader. Medieval in most other ways, it could well be that North Korea’s government—democratic and republican only in name—is an adherent to the constraints of Salic Law, that originally French code by which any female successor might be excluded from the heights of high office. It might be a monarchy circumscribed by sex. Innocent of a better knowledge of that country’s political institutions (by whose inspection, I’m sure, we’d be thoroughly appalled), the external and curious world simply can’t know whether or not this is the case. This might be a government under which all people can equally suffer, but one over which only a select few men will rule.

But, assuming she does come to rule, America ought to be ready. Kim Yo-jong, though pretty, isn’t a leader of whom we needn’t be wary. Hers isn’t a face, like the potion-stirring Circe, of which we needn’t be cautious. Quite the contrary. We ought to study her with suspicion and care. We ought to leave at least one Odysseus on the ship. She is, after all, a Kim, and that name is a synonym for a killer. Let us, then, inoculate ourselves in anticipation of her regime. Let us be unsusceptible to a specious though dazzling grin.

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