We Three Kims

It’s not uncommon for a nation or region to be dominated by a brace or two of names. In Bali, for instance, there are in general four classes of given names—the first-born will be Wayan, or perhaps Gede, the second-born might be Kadek, and so on until the fourth, who is named Ketut, which means ‘little banana’.

Since Bali is Hindu, by contrast with the rest of Indonesia (the largest Muslim country in the world), castes are also prevalent—as an example, Gusti is common in the Ksatria, or military caste.

In Ireland, Brendans abound; in Spain, Antonio is the most common—over a quarter of a million exist. Korea, on the other hand, is a surname oligarchy—almost half the population has one of three family names: Kim, Lee, or Park.

Of these, Kim tops the table with twenty percent of the population of South Korea. If we assume this works pro rata across all the peninsula, out of seventy-seven million people, there are fifteen million Kims.

This contrasts with the diversity of family names in China (about one hundred in common use) or in the US. In the States, Garcia currently ranks 18th, Martinez is 19th, and Rodriguez is number twenty-two—expect to see those in the top ten fairly soon.

Korea had no surnames, except in royalty and ranking nobility,  until the end of the Joseon dynasty in 1910. As the lower classes crowded to adopted surnames, they naturally chose those which increased their status—the half dozen associated with the feudal families.

As a consequence, it became increasingly difficult to distinguish whether marriages were consanguineous—until 1997 there were restrictions on same-surname marriage unless it could be established that the love-struck Kims belonged to separate bongwan, in which case bonk wan was permitted.

In a scenario vaguely reminiscent of Donald Trump’s capillary highlights, the DPRK extolls its great leader.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, that the three Kims who this week made landfall in the US were released by a further Kim. Asians in general place their family name first, so only the Americanized Tony Kim got a Western spin of his name—all in all, the weird 3am seance was a fit harbinger of what lies ahead.

Exactly one month from today, the bizarre Kim will meet his equally bizarre counterpart from the US in Singapore.

The world looks on in perplexity, or perhaps doesn’t give a shit, since the main worry is what Meghan Markle will be wearing next Saturday, and whether Harry will shave. I wish them well, as one must with every young(ish) couple in love (the bride is 36), but I wonder if the Windsors won’t be competing for ratings once again in the not too distant future.

Now, when it comes to the Kimster, I do live in perplexity. When you consider last year’s model of North Korean despot, the whirlwind romance is just too Hollywood for words. If the population of the North could speak freely, I’m sure many would say “Where’s my Kim and what have you done with him?”

Let’s review.

  • There once was a Kim who wanted the DPRK (for it is she) to become a nuclear power on the world stage. Now this is achieved, will its arsenal disappear?
  • Strong words about taking over the South were exchanged freely for years—unfinished business after the Korean War. Now the two fittest surnames in the land, Park and Kim, walk hand-in-hand in an Asian version of the Macron transatlantic affaire (no honeymoon in Persia there!)
  • China and America waltz together among the cherry blossoms as the Koreas consummate their love—no bongwan issues here—but instead of an orgasmic explosion of nuclear bonking, they take a Pencian perspective and just say no, chastely denuking together.

This amazing tale is reminiscent of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, with Kim cast as the Asian Scrooge. It does seem as if the CIA has discovered some astonishing chemical formula to invert personality.

While the FSB is busy intoxicating ex-Russian spooks on Salisbury plain, the US secret services have stumbled onto the game-changer of all time.

Slowly, the wonderdrug infiltrated through Kim’s hair. Here, he is already looking like a benign college professor.

The remarkable new drug, administered in small, easily absorbable doses, has the power to change evil-doers into Mother Teresa. So it came to pass that, much like the white arsenic provided to the Perfect Prince, Kim’s all-time breakfast favorite, diced poodle, was subtly laced with the Trumpian potion. But in these days of two-factor authentication, the CIA needed more.

Taking a leaf, or possibly a follicle, from their own lord and master, the US secret services replaced Kim’s hair gel with an absolutely identical product—but using cutting-edge (sorry) ion exchange technology, the masterspies had the notion to embed the potion in the lotion. And every morning, as the great dictator’s scalp was massaged by his favorite minionette, the drug infiltrated his cerebellum.

In 2017, on the day of Victory of the Great Fatherland Liberation War, Kim was hurling invective at his capitalist neighbor and at the dotard across the sea.

By Generalissimo Day, he was spouting peace and harmony, his mop unusually lustrous, all memories of evil erased.

Oh joy! And all it took was a mad guy with orange hair!

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

 

 

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