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"I am the Illest. See how fly I look on a white horse."

North Korea uses the most over the top official rhetoric of any country on Earth. In fact the language is so routinely bizarre that sometimes you wonder if the place is actually on Mars.

Every year at this time the North Korean government issues a collection of crazy statements related to the kickoff of the annual US/South Korean military exercises. This year was no exception.

The LA Times reported: North Korea said it put all its soldiers and reservists on high alert to “mercilessly crush the aggressor.” I’ve been called a bit of a namby-pamby from time to time but the crushings that I’ve been privy to have always been most effective when carried out “mercilessly.” “Half-assed” crushings seem counter-intuitive.

The same piece quotes the North as saying its forces would blow up the citadel of aggressors once the order is issued.” Great to see that the near constant battle against famine has not dimished the readiness of the KJ the Illest’s crack commandos.

It certainly does not stop there. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea can make even the mundane sound insane. KCNA, the government news agency, often reports on the Illest’s daily activities – examples include his excursions to see “state of the art factories” that have only sporadic access to power. After one troop inspection it said that KJ was:

greatly satisfied to learn that the servicepersons of the unit, firmly equipped with the Party’s Juche-oriented war methods, have turned their defence theatre into an impregnable fortress with the noble patriotic determination to devotedly defend the socialist homeland by force of arms and burning hatred for the U.S. imperialist aggressors.

I doubt the DPRK’s million man army is going to repel the aggressors with love, but better the hatred be burning than luke warm or kinda cold.

My mother did feel cold chills when in 2003 I insisted on visiting the DMZ – just 50 minutes from Seoul. As a student of history she remembered North Korean diplomat Pak Yong Soo’s 1994 comment, “Seoul is not far from here. If there is a war, it will become a sea of fire.” Fortunately, the only sea I drowned in while in Korea was one of Soju. (The DMZ feels mostly like a kitschy Cold War Disneyland – visit it if you can)

KJ the Illest runs a pariah state that operates outside of the international system (though he seems OK with the fact that the UN feeds whacks of his people). The rhetoric that emanates from the Hermit Kingdom is over the top, because it can be. While the DPRK is basically an autarkic hellhole, it possesses nuclear weapons and its neighbours are scared shitless about the potential refugee issues that would result were the Illest to exit stage right. Geopolitics are a bitch because they confer certain privileges on bad people.

Alas, you don’t have the luxury of over the top communications or a free pass to sound like a fool. I know you’re way too smart to execute based on KJ’s playbook but you need to make sure your communications dial down the rhetoric. Unlike KJ the Illest’s stakeholders, yours are unlikely to show you much patience.

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