Carole Lieberman’s Perspective:
Almost daily, headlines blare the latest threat from Kim Jong Un — each one topping the next in its intent to convince us that we should be afraid, be very afraid, of this tough and fearless leader. And, just in case we need more convincing, North Korean reports have begun to be accompanied by photographs and videos of their leader posing on a big horse and firing a gun during target practice with his military.
Since big horses and guns are powerful symbols, our unconscious mind connects them to Kim Jong Un and tells us that he must be powerful, indeed.
Many people are scratching their heads and wondering where this latest and potentially very dangerous North Korean threat came from. It seems to have come out of the blue, barging onto the international landscape like a bull in a china shop.
But, it was predictable.
Actually, the roots of Kim Jong Un’s behavior can be found in his having been declared 2012’s “Sexiest Man Alive” by The Onion last November. Announcing his selection, The Onion wrote, “With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.”
Of course, anyone familiar with The Onion knows that it is a satirical publication and that all of its fawning over Kim Jong Un was facetiousness at its best. Unfortunately, The People’s Daily in China, was not familiar with such satire, and thought this was a serious and admirable honor bestowed upon him.
So, they outdid The Onion by posting the story with a 55-page photo spread, to underline just how macho and sexy Kim Jong Un is. When it came to light that The Onion was only calling him a “real hunk” as a spoof, to mock him in order to expose the truth, neither The People’s Daily, nor Kim Jong Un were laughing.
The psychological fallout of being mocked, especially when it’s someone like Kim Jong Un, who apparently cannot take a joke or get into the spirit of satire, is predictably what we are seeing now.
His Swiss boarding school classmates reportedly describe him as “shy,” “awkward with girls,” and obsessed with American basketball and Michael Jordan. He would probably trade places with sports stars Jordan or Dennis Rodman in a heartbeat.
No, Kim Jong Un was clearly not the bear to poke. He had been lulled into a false sense of believing that an American publication chose him as the “Sexiest Man Alive,” and discovering the joke was on him has made him furious, vengeful and power mad.
Since, according to Henry Kissinger (and many women), “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac,” Kim Jong Un is out to prove that he is the most powerful man in the world, thereby reclaiming his “Sexiest Man Alive” title — but, for real this time.
A three-time Emmy award-winner, Dr. Carole Lieberman is the author of the bestselling book “Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them and When to Leave Them.” Since 9/11, she has devoted herself to rousing people from denial and giving them the psychological tools they need to survive. Her latest book is “Coping with Terrorism: Dreams Interrupted.” She has also created the first “Shrink on Board,” a Relaxation Channel, and the first Terrorist Stress Hotline.
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