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Over 60 ... And Getting Younger: December 22, 2011

The Peninsula

If ever you wanted to compare the benefits of Capitalism and Communism, all you have to do is look at the Korean Peninsula. The recent death of Kim Jong Il at age 69 brought this question to mind in a stark manner. North Korea (above the 38th parallel) is suffering from food shortages and a harsh economic climate while South Korea (below the 38th) is a thriving democracy selling cars and electronic devices to the world.

While North Korea is producing nuclear bombs and rockets, South Korea is producing Samsung wide television sets and automobiles such as Hyundai, Kia and many other peaceful products.

Kim Jong Il was a longtime idiosyncratic and unstable leader who inherited power from the revered Kim Il Sung, his father, in 1994. The dynasty continues, as Kim Jong Il had already hand-picked his third son, Kim Jong Un, as successor to the leadership position.

In 2002, President Bush denounced North Korea as a member of the “axis of evil” that included Iran and Iraq. Bush characterized Kim Jong Il as a “tyrant” who starved his people in order to build nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong Il had western tastes. He loved American movies, American music, cigars, cognac and had 5,000 bottles of wine in his cellar.

When I was in South Korea in 1959, it was still recovering from the brutal Korean War (1950-1953). The streets of Seoul were muddy and poverty was everywhere. With U.S. help and their own economic prowess, the South Koreans have built an admirable capitalistic and democratic society.

Kim sought to blame the United States for his country’s troubles and misfortunes. I am quite sure Washington D.C. would have helped North Korea if they did not go down that aggressive and totalitarian path. The U.S. has helped many other nations.

The people of North Korea are starving and many seek to leave, but the Kim Dynasty is squelching all economic and democratic principles.