X Hooked--Kim Jong-un

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Over the years I have read with great amusement the fictions propagated by the Western imperialist print media that purport to chronicle my life as heir to the supreme leadership of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The self-confessed bourgeois members of the American and European press corps, toady sycophant puppets to the puppet-masters in Washington and Berlin and London, would have my early education take place in a dozen different countries on all seven continents. In truth, as a boy I studied at the Liebefeld Steinhölzli in Köniz near Bern, taking the name "Pak-un" and posing, for obvious security reasons, as the son of the DPRK’s ambassador to Switzerland.

Ri Tcheul had no children of his own, his wife, Sun Chin, having spent much of her child-bearing years undergoing reeducation at Chongjin Political Prison Camp, #25, in Chongjin, North Hamgyong for offenses against the State made by her grandfather. Almost immediately I was accepted by Ri Tcheul as the “son he never had” and he by me as the father I never had. (In the summer between the eight grade and the ninth grade the bond between us grew exponentially when it was learned that eldest half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, had, with the tacit approval of my father, orchestrated my assassination in order to leave no doubt as to his right of succession. Ri Tcheul protected me, saved me from the Russian Mafia hit team commissioned by Jong-nam, and then finessed, I’ve never learned exactly how, my half-brother’s arrest when he was caught attempting to enter Japan on a fake passport in order to visit Tokyo Disneyland. (It was Jong-nam’s unhealthy obsession from early childhood with Minnie Mouse, concubine of Mickey, iconic symbol of the American privileged class that was his undoing.)

So how, you have the right to ask, does my love of American bluegrass music figure into the story? Simple, really. It so happened that the house of the North Korean Ambassador to Switzerland had as its chef a Japanese man called Kenji Fujimoto, who studied his art at the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. And it further happened that while studying in that fabled city, a hot bed of bluegrass music, the young Japaneser was exposed to and eventually fell deeply and passionately in love with the five-string banjo, the Culinary Academy being located in the city’s Marina District, less than one block from the famed Paul’s Saloon, undisputed West-Coast epicenter of bluegrass. So smitten by the bug…or, shall we say for metaphorical consistency’s sake, so hooked by it, that the young student found himself spending more time learning Scruggs-style pull-offs than soufflés. So enamored was Kenji of the music of Monroe, Scruggs and the Stanley’s that he’d decided to abandon his career in the culinary arts and pursue one in bluegrass.

It was only his father’s intervention that dissuaded Kenji from abandoning his dream of becoming an internationally known chef but he never lost his devotion to the music and he passed his love for it to Ri Tcheul and myself. We three began seeking out ever opportunity to experience live bluegrass music in Switzerland and, surprisingly, it proved to be bountiful. Far and away our most treasured event was the Willisau Spring Bluegrass Festival held each year at the Swiss Agricultural Museum located in a mountain valley outside of the town of Willisau. I shall hold dear to my heart the easygoing, fun-loving people we met there, pickers, it seemed, one and all. Over the hill from the festival, a cacophony of cowbells rang steadily like finely tuned singing bowls, flooding the valley. It was a sound I shall never forget, a sound that filled my soul and made me, though for a precious few years, whole.

Of course attending, much less enjoying, a music festival that featured a genre borne of the cynical capitalist greed that so completely engulfed the racist American south would have been only slightly less treasonous than my half-brother’s failed attempt at visiting Disneyland. When I finished my studies and it was time to leave Switzerland and return home, Ri Tcheul, Kenji and I swore a blood oath that we would never speak of those most lovely of loveliest times spent under the tall pines listening to the likes of the Third Time Out, Del Mc Coury and Doyle Lawson and his Quicksilvers. Those moments of such sublime high lonesomeness, we vowed, would stay locked in our hearts and never to be spoken of.

That you are now privy to my hooked on bluegrass tale means, of course, that I have met my end, no doubt a brutal one and altogether likely due to the treachery and intrigue that has pervaded my every waking hour save the precious time I spent at Liebefeld Steinhölzli and in the home of Ri and Chin. Know that I found great solace in penning my tale. Long live the music of Bill Monroe. Long live the music of Ralph Stanley and John Duffy. I die a happy, satisfied man having known them through their music.
Posted By:  Rick Cornish

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