“The Soup Nazi” is one of Seinfeld’s most famous episodes. It’s about this guy who runs a soup takeout place. Labeled “The Soup Nazi,” he is feared for his strict enforcement of his soup-buying rules and his harsh attitude. The real-life soup vendor, Al Yageneh, who inspired the episode, took offense at the moniker.
There is nothing worse than being called a Nazi. The term is usually used in a hyperbolic sense, and gets thrown around quite indiscriminately. Unfortunately, that defeated ideology still occasionally echoes in our modern society as we’ve seen in Charlottesville. That, we should and do condemn without reservation or humor.
As real as their hate may be, this hateful lot is not a real force to be reckoned with. They have no power nor glory. Their “big” national rally drew only a few hundreds, including other hate groups like the KKK.
But there is another type of Nazism that tries to terrorize the world, even threatening our home island. I’m talking about North Korea’s regime. It may not be nearly as powerful as 1939 Nazi Germany, but it can’t be simply dismissed like you might do with 300 losers with torches at a rally.
Kim Jong-un’s regime governs over 20 million people. With a million-man army, Pyongyang is in possession of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, on top of the recently developed ICBMs and medium range missiles capable of reaching Guam and the world’s largest arsenal of artillery massed along the Korean border, some of it capable of striking greater Seoul. Estimates put their arsenal at 11,000 pieces of artillery. You know it’s a massive stockpile when the margin of error here is greater than most of the world’s armies entire force.
But, hey, we have bombers and nuclear weapons in Guam — so do the Russians and Chinese. So it’s all the same right? Wrong. While Russia and China may represent a true existential threat to the United States, neither of them is gripped by the kind of fanaticism, paranoia and hatred epitomized by the Kim regime.
Kim’s regime is truly Hitlerian.This regime has built concentration camps for political prisoners and families with children. It employs slave labor and commits gross human rights abuses against roughly 150,000 victims, according to Amnesty International. The actual deal toll is unknown.
The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, which comprise 40 human rights groups, was formed in 2011 to look into human rights violations in the reclusive Asian nation. Without enforcement mechanism, however, justice is unlikely.
So let’s not kid ourselves: Appealing to the humane side of Kim regime seems like a fantasy.
The recently elected populist South Korean President Moon Jae-in is making attempts at having a new dialogue with the North. It seems strange that President Moon would want to reinstate the failed “Sunshine Policy” of the past. That was the period from 1998-2006 that oversaw massive financial aid and economic investment given to North Korea. In return, Kim Jong il rewarded them with a nuclear weapons test and new ballistic missiles.
President Moon’s former boss, President Roh said in 2006, "The South Korean government at this point cannot continue to say that this engagement policy is effective.” A South Korean government report in 2010 formally acknowledged that the policy had failed. So here we are, 11 years later, history is repeating itself.
During my recent travels to Seoul, I’ve observed what seems to be a combination of apathy, denial and sorrow among South Koreans, who showed no signs of fear or panic. A local government report said almost 74 percent of Seoul residents didn’t even know the location of the nearest shelter.
You can’t live in terror decade after decade without getting numb, notwithstanding the threat. In the end, South and North Koreans all call themselves simply “Koreans” – no qualifier. Such disposition may come in handy eventually with North Korea— if there is any chance of a dialogue toward the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula.
Uncle Sam can present the alternative to Kim if he keeps his threatening behavior. I for one am hoping that his survival instinct is more powerful than his paranoia and hate. The U.S. can still offer a deal that satisfies his will to survive and eliminates the threat of nuclear from any side on the Korean peninsula. But that won’t happen with just good intentions, or sunshine policies blown toward Pyongyang.
Joe Meyers is self-confessed news junkie. He lives in Tamuning.