To many foreign observers, North Korea is an odd place. With the succession of odd, little dictators, its dependence on China for aid and its determination to celebrate both its victories and its failures it always seems like one big Political House of Cards where one gust of reality will knock it down. Its attempt and subsequent failure to launch a rocket this week was still celebrated as a great triumph in the capital Pyongyang.
Now this is partly because of the propaganda inbuilt into North Korean society where the glorification of its two former leaders, father and son Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il is more important than feeding its people but also because it plays into its ‘us versus the capitalist’ rhetoric.
It has been studied apprhensively by the Western media to see how the third ruler of the ‘world’s only communist monarchy’ is coping since his father’s death in December and speculated over whether he can maintain the facade of progress while his country slides further and further away from the prosperity of the rest of the world.
The theatrics of the past week suggest that these hypotheses were premature as the Korean propaganda machine rumbles on. With a failed rocket launch and the unveiling of two gigantic statues of the two previous Kims in Pyongyang the ruling class and the masses that appear to follow them celebrated their actions as a massive success.