Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2003 / 7 Shevat 5763
Bond movie offers clues to Korea crisis
Everybody's trying to figure out what's going on in North Korean President Kim Jong Il's goofy head these days. Maybe the answer is in the movies.
President Bush's policy has made the same embarrassing error that the producers of the latest James Bond movie, "Die Another Day," did: It has managed to unite the two Koreas in opposition to the movie.
Movies mean a lot to Kim. It is said that he spends at least two hours a day surfing the Web, and watching TV, including lots of Hollywood movies and South Korean soap operas.
Kim's official media mouthpieces panned the movie, in which Bond fights bad guys in North Korea's military, as a "dirty and cursed burlesque aimed to slander (North Korea) and insult the Korean nation."
Well, any movie that offends a tyrant who builds a million-man army while much of his country starves can't be all bad. But this flick is offending South Koreans, too, so much that some theaters have cancelled it in response to protests.
The protesters didn't like the way American agents bossed South Korea's military around. They didn't like the way their very technologically advanced country was portrayed as a nation of water buffalo farmers. They didn't like the staging of an obligatory Bond sex scene in a Buddhist temple.
Sure, there is nothing new about Hollywood movies offending people. In fact, anyone who has not been offended should be offended for being overlooked.
But in this case, Hollywood's unintended offense reflects how much Americans, apparently including the Bush White House, have lost touch with the growing mood of reconciliation between these two countries that officially have been at war since 1950.
The film, for example, had the misfortune of opening at a time of large protests throughout South Korea over the acquittal of two U.S. soldiers whose armored vehicle killed two teenage girls in June.
And, while it is not clear what Kim is trying to achieve with his recklessly aggressive strategy toward the United States, his behavior brings to mind Alex Forrest, Glenn Close's character who was driven to homicide in the movie "Fatal Attraction" because she would not be "ignored."
Kim won't be ignored, either. Like a bratty child who has failed to get his parents' attention through positive behavior, he turns to negative behavior - and dares the United States to do something about it.
The Bush administration initially tried to distance itself from the Clinton administration's policies, which gained the 1994 nuclear accord that Kim now flagrantly violates. North Korea sought to continue missile negotiations with the new Bush administration, but talks broke down when the White House sought to include other security concerns in the dialogue.
Bush's new hard line culminated in a speech last year in which he linked North Korea to Iraq and Iran as an "axis of evil" in their support for international terrorism. That phrase now comes back to bite Bush's policy. Why, many ask understandably, does he wave the war threat in Saddam Hussein's face while seeking diplomatic means to deal with North Korea?
Well, North Korea may already have some nuclear bombs, while Saddam has oil. Is oil worth going to war for? Maybe, but the administration has not been very candid about that. The question arouses uncomfortable reminders of America's oil continuing dependency- and the old comic strip character Pogo's observation: "We have met the enemy - and he is us!"
As for the two Koreas, the current face-off shows the need for all three countries to reintroduce themselves to each other. Today's generation of South Koreans has little memory of the war in which 36,500 American soldiers died. But they do have high hopes for the reunification of the two countries.
The Bush administration has refused to "reward" Kim's behavior through direct negotiations, but real movement appears likely to develop quietly through neutral countries and other back channels.
In other words, after initially trying to distance itself from the Clinton policy of negotiating with North Korea, the Bush administration appears to be moving closer to it. That path of mutual sanity holds the best hope of avoiding a nuclear climax and reaching a happy ending worthy even of Hollywood.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on JWR contributor Clarence Page's column by clicking here.
01/07/03: Dr. Frist to the rescue … of his party
01/02/03: Feeling a 'draft,' but not much
12/17/02: To rob a burning cross of its power
12/03/02: Closing black-white test-score gaps
11/19/02: Uncle Same wants your data
11/15/02: Marriage vs. 'player' impulse
11/11/02: How Oz can help the Dems
11/05/02: We reserve right to be complicated
10/22/02: What the pro-gun lobby and anti-gun lobby have in common
10/18/02: Take Sharpton seriously? For Prez??
10/15/02: A beauty and the bullies
10/08/02: Time to start 'fingerprinting' bullets
10/08/02: Poet laureate hater fell for Internet hoax
10/04/02: Keeping it real, despite howls from black 'leaders'
10/01/02: Revisiting the 'Jogger' horror
09/27/02: Sometimes freedom is a necessary nuisance
09/13/02: Foil Fidel with free trade
09/10/02: Measuring the myth of 'super weed'
09/06/02: A year later: A reality-check
09/03/02: Make better choices before some jury somewhere does
08/20/02: Bid farewell to the Cigarette Century
08/16/02: Rights matter, even in circus trials
08/09/02: Jousting with Rumsfeld's fog of wit
08/06/02: Covert action is cool again
08/01/02: Powell's premature obituaries
07/30/02: A common sense tip on internal snooping
07/18/02: Jacko plays race card badly
07/12/02: Last flight for a pioneer airman
07/08/02: Dems will miss Watts, too
06/28/02: 'Supreme Court reads polls, too
06/25/02: 'The Body' bites, then bows out
06/21/02: Punishment first, then the crime?
06/18/02: Reporting still risky for Haiti's press
06/14/02: Bush's security plan leaves large gaps
06/04/02: Fix FBI's culture gap first
05/28/02: Fidel's new apartheid for tourists
05/21/02: Now McKinney's lunacy sounds like the Democratic Party line
05/19/02: A paradox of historical proportions
05/14/02: 'Murphy Brown' revisited in age of Ozzy
05/10/02: America looks like a model of tolerance and inclusion
05/07/02: Forget it, Bill, you're no Oprah
04/26/02: Mapping out ethnic and racial change
04/23/02: A game of another color
04/19/02: It's high time to open up pot-law debate
04/11/02: 'Osbourne' family values rock, aging Ozzy quakes
03/22/02: Zimbabwe election leaves world sleepless
03/19/02: A slur? Where is thy sting?
03/15/02: A Pearl of wisdom for reporter's unborn son
03/12/02: Army race and gender policies on trial
03/08/02: A short list of losers to be left behind
03/05/02: Revenge of the 'mediasaurus'
02/26/02: Jihads aren't just for Muslims
02/26/02: It's hard to be 'objective' during wartime
02/19/02: Hollywood's new villain: Your HMO
02/12/02: Father of 'Manchild' leaves lasting message
02/08/02: $nookering the reparations crowd
01/31/02: Prisoners of a War of Words
01/29/02: One more Enron woe: Al Sharpton & company
01/25/02: Searching for slaves in bin Laden's attic
01/22/02: Andrew Young's newest 'friend'
01/08/02: Hard-earned lessons from 9-11
12/18/01: Whatever happened to questions about the birds and the bees?
12/14/01: The "White Negro" Taliban?
12/07/01: Jackson's turn to gloat
11/27/01: Friendly warning from a lover of liberty
11/21/01: The face of hunger is changing
11/15/01: Our troubled sense of trust
11/08/01: Lessons about terror from the 'hood
11/06/01: Getting used to the 'new normal'
11/02/01: Wicked ways to make them talk
10/30/01: It's not just about bin Laden
10/26/01: More than mail fell between the cracks
10/23/01: Terrorists threaten urban recovery, too
10/18/01: Sometimes, assassination warranted
10/15/01: Self-censorship rises again
10/12/01: Contradictions illustrate the complicated nature of the new terrorism
10/05/01: Look who's 'profiling' now
10/01/01: Don't trash liberty to save it
09/28/01: Life, love and cell phones during wartime
09/24/01: How to catch an elusive terrorist
09/21/01: The war I was waiting for
09/17/01: When rage turns to hate
09/13/01: Terror attack tests US, let's give right response
09/06/01: U.S. should have stayed and argued
09/04/01: Columbine killer's parents get upclose and personal
08/31/01: Virtual kids? Log me out
08/28/01: Two Africans, one black, one white, same fight
08/23/01: Sharpton for president
08/20/01: Shaking up the rules on keeping secrets
08/16/01: Bush's u-turn on racial goals
08/09/01: Outsider Bubba comes 'in' again
08/06/01: Not ready for 'color-blindness' yet
08/02/01: Immigration timing couldn't be better
07/26/01: Summer of Chandra: An international traveler's perspective
07/17/01: Overthrowing a régime is only the beginning
07/10/01: Big Brother is watching you, fining you
07/05/01: Can blacks be patriotic? Should they be?
06/19/01: Get 'real' about marriage
06/12/01: Amos, Andy and Tony Soprano
06/07/01: Getting tough with the Bush Twins
06/05/01: Bringing marriage back into fashion
05/31/01: "Ken" and "Johnnie": The odd-couple legal team
05/24/01: Sharpton's challenge to Jackson
05/22/01: Test scores equal (a) MERIT? (b) MENACE? (c) ALL OF ABOVE?
05/17/01: Anti-pot politics squeeze the ill
05/15/01: Was Babe Ruth black?
05/10/01: U.N.'s torture caucus slaps Uncle Sam
05/08/01: 'The Sopranos' a reflection of our times
05/03/01: 'Free-fire' zones, then and now
05/01/01: War on drugs misfires against students
04/26/01: Another athlete gets foot-in-mouth disease
04/23/01: 'Slave' boat mystery reveals real tragedy
04/19/01: McVeigh's execution show
04/12/01: Not this time, Jesse
04/05/01: Dubya is DEFINITELY his own man, you fools!
04/02/01: Milking MLK
03/29/01: The candidate who censored himself?
03/22/01: "Will Hispanics elbow blacks out of the way as the nation's most prominent minority group?"
03/19/01: Blacks and the SATs
03/15/01: The census: How much race still matters in the everyday life of America
03/12/01: Jesse is a victim!
03/08/01: Saving kids from becoming killers
03/01/01: Parents owe "Puffy" and Eminem our thanks
© 2001 TMS