The week’s news was dominated by President Trump’s verbal saber-rattling with North Korea. Except that these weren’t swords being waved by Trump and Kim Jong Un: They were nuclear warhead-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. But the problem isn’t Trump’s rhetoric. It’s Kim’s actions — and China’s.
Since July 16, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was tested in the desert of New Mexico, the civilized world has worried what would happen if a certifiable madman got his hands on the bomb. The jokes making the rounds on social media and among late night comedians is that Trump’s 2016 election brought this crisis to the fore. That’s not humorous to me for the simple reason that the murderous impulses of Kim Jong Un, however buffoonish a figure he cuts, are neither funny nor hypothetical.
A 2014 United Nations dossier of his regime’s crimes against humanity runs 372 pages. “I have been a judge for a very long time and I’m pretty hardened to testimony,” said Australian magistrate Michael Kirby. “But the testimony … brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.”
One North Korean refugee told U.N. investigators that Kim personally involved himself in the desecration and disposal of murdered political prisoners. Their bodies were tossed on a cart and driven away to be incinerated and the ashes used for fertilizer.
In February 2016, a South Korean think tank reported that Kim Jong Un had ordered the execution of some 340 North Koreans, many of them members of his own family — for infractions ranging from disagreeing with Kim’s forestation policies to “slouching” at public events. The capricious nature of these death sentences beggars belief: Those killed include a manager of a turtle farm who explained to Kim that turtles had died because of power outages and food shortages; four musicians in a band favored by his former wife; a widow who protested the execution of her husband.
Last summer, the Obama administration placed Kim…