It ought to go without saying that Kim Jong Il was one of the most despicable people to have ever lived. The degree to which he made his country into a prison house with horrific living conditions featuring mass starvation, the extent to which his policies stunted the life expectancy of the average North Korean, the work he did to perpetrate the most terrifying human rights abuses imaginable, and the amount of effort he put into destabilizing Asia, and the international community in general all have been documented to a significant degree. But even so, Kim’s depredations cannot be emphasized enough; he was more evil than even the most exact description of his fundamental immorality could possibly attest to.
Of course, much has to be done in order to ensure that some semblance of stability is allowed to take hold in the aftermath of Kim’s death; there are legitimate worries that the situation on the Korean peninsula could devolve to a frightening state, especially since the country’s nuclear weapons are now purportedly in the hands of a 28 year old tyro (though in reality, the generals are likely the ones in charge). One can only hope, however, that Kim’s death might lead to some confluence of events that could ultimately help liberalize North Korea, and lead to a peaceful reunification with the South that would serve to benefit the Korean peninsula, and meet the interests of the civilized members of the international community in the process.
About the only thing that is unfortunate about Kim’s death is that the commentary on his rule will overshadow the discussion of Vaclav Havel’s infinitely more honorable legacy. It therefore seems only fair to let Havel have the last word. The former’s condemnation of the latter is entirely on point. No excerpts; just read the whole thing. May it serve as Kim’s epitaph.