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When friends get angry, they miss the point.

Summary: The North Korean embassy in Cairo sent a furious complaint, protesting to the article 'Mass suicide in the Korean Peninsula,' which appeared in this corner on April 7. The North Korean embassy accused the writer of the 'Home Talk' corner of criticising their 'supreme dignity'. The embassy's accusations also included allegations that the writer refused extraordinarily to break from rhetoric and disgusting cliches from the past; they said that the writer was reiterating the imperialist-manufactured anti-Korean propaganda.

The North Korean embassy's misunderstanding of the April 7 article is basically the result of an extraordinary refusal to come to terms with the reality that idolised leaders and heads of state are those who sacrifice their efforts and themselves for the welfare of their nation.

Heads of state, who think otherwise (coercing their people selfishly to sacrifice their lives for their sake), usually meet a tragic end, whether at the hands of their alleged loyalists, or as a result of external causes. North Korean people celebrate exceptional examples, which could testify to this argument. For example, the memory of late, great leader Kim Il-sung and his late son Kim Jong-il remains brightly vivid in the minds of North Korean people and their friends across the world.

Kim Il-sung, who possessed a devastating charisma, was a clever skipper of a war-torn nation. He managed to help his bleeding people to rise and come to terms with the legacy of a fierce three-year war on the peninsula. Kim Il-sung sought peace as the only option to haul his country up a steep, rocky hill, improve its economy and offer a dignified life and welfare to his loyal people.

In an acknowledgement of his sacrifices and devotion to his people, Kim Il-sung became an iconic figure at home and abroad. Since his death in 1994, Kim Il-sung's devastating charisma has been influential up to the moment. His son Kim Jong-il walked down his father's path confidently and proudly. Kim Jong-il extended an olive branch to his chief foe, the US.

Realising that the weak would beg - not proudly demand - for peace from their opponents, Kim Jong-il sought to increase his nation's military defence. Perhaps, not learning the tragic lesson from the old nuclear superpower the Soviet Union, which was also his nation's chief ally, Kim Jong-il spent a huge budget on nuclear tests.

Nonetheless, prioritising his people's supreme interests - prosperity and welfare - Kim Jong-il agreed to sit at a six-party negotiating table presided over by the US to persuade Pyongyang to relinquish its nuclear tests. He remarkably improved his country's distorted image in the mind of foreigners.

He flung the windows of his nation wide open on the outside world by inviting the former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright to visit Pyongyang. During her unprecedented visit on October 24, 2000, Albright, who was the highest level US official ever to visit North Korea, took part in celebrations marking the 55th anniversary of North Korea's Communist Party. North Korean people must have been elated at the sight of Albright tossing the chalice with their leader.

Together with the North Korean people, the whole world, and Pyongyang's neighbours in particular, heaved a deep sigh of relief that peace would prevail on the Korean Peninsula. At the peak of the crisis with his opponents, Kim Jong-il had refrained from bellicose statements. Nor did he threaten to test his nuclear programmes in a foreign land. Also, after Albright's perfume had dissipated from Pyongyang's air and the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea, Kim Jong-il acted as a responsible statesman, leaving the door ajar for a fresh breeze of a new peace gesture.

Things have changed dramatically after Kim Jong-un inherited power in Pyongyang. Apparently having concerns that his young age and his predecessors' devastating charisma and reputation would dim his image at home and abroad, Kim Jong-un led a rebellion against his father's and his grandfather's statesmanship and policies. Although he is supposed to represent the young generation in his country, the successor ignored the economic sufferings in his country and allocated millions of US dollars for more nuclear tests, which would unavoidably backfire on Pyongyang sooner or later.

The dramatic collapse of the old Soviet Union, whose nuclear arsenal was immense and largely destructive, must be vividly remembered by cash-strapped nations like North Korea. Nuclear arms are built to rot. Nuclear invasion of a foreign land is unthinkable and unimaginable in our age. The soft and bloodless invasion (economy and culture) has proved to be more powerful and successful than nuclear deterrence.

China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Turkey to name just a few, are the perfect examples. Using its powerful economy - not its powerful nuclear weapons - communist China launched an irresistibly soft invasion against the capitalist oases in the US and Europe. Moreover, capitalist countries begged for help from China when they were hard hit by economic and financial crises in 2008 and 2009. North Korea has skilled human resources, technological experience and an iron-clad will to survive its problems and establish itself proudly on the world map.

Instead, Pyongyang appears to be interested in rupturing its ties with neighbours, reviving the old distorted image of a nation shrouded in secrecy.

The author of 'Home Talk' acknowledges the North Korean people's struggle to preserve dignity and achieve economic prosperity. But in Egypt and elsewhere in democratic societies, heads of state and leaders are not immune from criticism. Nations are. The author of this corner has repeatedly criticised and lampooned the president(s) of the alleged imperialist US for their intriguing policies towards Arabs and Muslims. Fortunately, democratic nations appreciate such criticism; even if it is provocative or intimidating. I hope my friends in the North Korean embassy will carefully re-read the article 'Mass suicide in the Korean Peninsula' to discover that they misunderstood the point and wrongly aimed their guns at a friend.

Copyright Eltahir House 2013

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Date:Apr 21, 2013
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