Some of my best friends are North Koreans.
In fact, my very best friend, whom I met Christmas Eve of 1956, is the only veteran of the North Korean Communist army (which we fought, beginning in 1950) to become an American citizen.
It was at a student refugee camp in Vienna shortly after the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviets. His was the only Asian face in the house. I assumed he was a Japanese Red Cross worker or Thai journalist. Then the Hungarian students sat down on the floor and started singing one of those songs where everybody locks arms and sways back and forth.
And he sat and sang and swayed with them!
I knew, whoever he was, he’d just escaped Communist Hungary. I bounded over, grabbed his shoulders and shouted, “China?” “Korea,” he responded. And Zang Gi Hong and I hugged. We’d been bent on killing each other during the Korean War three years before. He’d traveled farther to escape Communism than anybody else before or since. From northeast Asia all the way to central Europe; first as an honored soldier, student and Communist, from North Korea by train through Manchuria, the entire Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia, to a university in Budapest where he studied military engineering. Two years later he and his North Korean student buddies were showing the Hungarian kids how to use captured – and donated – Russian weapons.
When the Soviets rolled 2,000 tanks and 200,000 troops over the Hungarian Freedom Fighters, Communist police rounded up every Korean in sight. It’s hard to hide a Korean in Budapest. Of the 200, only three made it to Austria and freedom. Bragging is legal; all three are my close friends. Zang (last names come first in Korean and Hungarian!) wanted to come to America and study architecture. That dream came true. So did his dream of a free Hungary. He knows a free North Korea is going to take a while!
Customs police aren’t surprised by smuggling. Zoologists aren’t surprised by baboons. And people with North Korean friends aren’t surprised by the literally unbelievable cruelty of North Korea’s Communist regime. It makes Communist Russia and even Communist China look like Thomas Jefferson theme parks. Speaking of theme parks, we saw one play out on Fox News when the North Korean missile launch failed. The liberal panelist from the Washington Post asked hopefully if the fact that North Korea had for the first time admitted a failure might mean the regime intends to act more like a normal country. He was slam-dunked by the ever-brilliant Charles Krauthammer, who explained, “No. Because this launch was in honor of the hundredth anniversary of Great Leader Kim Il-Sung’s birth, they launched this one in public. They had no choice. If it had all been done in their normal secrecy, you’d never have heard a word!”
Where is he? We’ve got to find him, hug him, kiss him and enshrine him. I’m talking about whoever it was who called the “three stages” of the North Korean missile the “Three Stooges!”
When this Communist thug-state’s inability to feed its people caused millions of North Koreans to die in famine, the state-controlled media straight-facedly reported that science had just discovered that it’s healthy to eat only one meal a day! Go ahead and admit you’re staggered by North Korean reports of Kim Jong-Il’s first golf game. My North Korean friends totally expected them to claim something like, “Our Dear Leader, in his very first round, scored 18 strokes under par and six holes-in-one.”
It’s hard; Nay, impossible, to out-Holocaust the Holocaust; but the North Koreans have done it! We watched the bone-marrow-curdling interview of Fox’s Jennifer Griffin with a young boy born in one of North Korea’s “labor camps,” and who is one of only three out of 200,000 prisoners to escape. He reported that his mother and brother planned to attempt an escape. He watched as they were publicly executed. “I had no emotion about it,” he commented from free soil. Who would dare try to explain that?
Journalist-talk-host Sara Pentz, who plunged into research into the psychology of totalitarianism, tells us, “Inside the camp, that boy was not an individual. He was a number, an automaton, a nothing. He was raised by the guards. That’s what a dictatorship is all about: robbing the mind, the body and the soul of individual personhood.”
To sniff the political ammonia of North Korea’s regime, try this. The Panmunjom truce-hut sits squarely on the border between North and South Korea. The border-line runs through the room itself and, yes, even down the middle of the table. Once, an American major dropped a pencil and it bounced under the table an inch or two over to the North Korean side.
As he reached down to retrieve it, the combat boot of a North Korean officer came stomping down upon his bare “aggressive-invasive” fingers!
The math is in. My friend Zang tells me that enough money was squandered on this “Three-Stooges” missile fiasco to feed every North Korean citizen for an entire year!