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The absurdity of the North Korean dictatorship is easy to caricature.Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, was supposed to have been born on Mount Paektu, believed to be a sacred spot where the divine founder of the first Korean kingdom, a bear-man named Tangun, was born more than 4,000 years ago.Like Poland, which has a strong Christian self-image of national martyrdom, Korea has a history of being dominated by greater powers, mainly China, but also Russia, and, most notably since the brutal invasions of the 16th century, Japan.Some of the ruling classes in various Korean kingdoms cooperated with the foreign powers, and some struggled against them.Kim Il Sung began his career as a collaborator. He was hand-picked by Stalin to be a puppet Communist leader in the North. Defending the Kim dynasty, built up as a symbol of Korean resistance to foreign powers, is a sacred task.It is hard to imagine how Kim Jong Un, as the divine defender of his people, could be persuaded by such bluster to negotiate. It is possible that Kim, and perhaps even some subjects of his despotic rule, would rather be obliterated than give in.
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