Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Kim Jong Il and the Horror That Survives

Kim Jong Il’s death is a kind of victory—for him. He died of natural causes, in power, with nuclear technology at his disposal, leaving weeping newscasters to sing his praises. He was never toppled, imprisoned or killed. Kim presided over a totalitarian universe so comprehensive it managed to claim a perverse integrity. Free people outside North Korea have excised the country and its suffering millions from their daily consciences, even as they rally in support of Arab freedom or give toward the relief of African starvation. North Korea is a hell on earth that the earth would just as soon ignore.

Kim consigned generations to life and death inside a network of barbarous prisons. An entire nation, tortured and malnourished, in an age that’s elsewhere seen the formation of an obese poor class, the supposed defeat of  20th-century evils, and the rise of one-worldist peace dreams. Millions will continue to starve inside these death camps long after Kim’s own peaceful passing. Rogue nuclear powers manage to survive. In the May issue of COMMENTARY, Linda Chavez wrote the short story, “Afterbirth,” which takes readers inside the North Korean monstrosity that will survive the North Korean monster. Here is “Afterbirth”:

She held the large plastic bucket in front of her as the midwife severed the umbilical cord with a blood-smeared butcher knife before tossing the squirming infant into the pail. “Well? What are you standing there for? Get rid of it,” the midwife barked. She stepped back, averting her eyes from the bucket. It was heavy, three kilos she guessed, and the infant’s thrashing made carrying it difficult. She had wanted to stay until the afterbirth had been delivered. It would make a nourishing meal if she could hide until the shift was over. The guards would not miss a placenta, though they counted the bodies in the pit before they poured on the lime.

Hyepin—that was her name—had heard stories of prisoners who tried to steal the babies. She preferred to believe they were rescuing the still living, like the one in her bucket, though she knew it was more likely they intended to make a meal of the dead. She spat at the thought of it. It was one thing to devour human offal, another to eat flesh.

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