Conflict & Justice

Dear Leader: Why do you hate Christmas?

Dear Leader,

Hi. Quick question: Why do you hate Christmas?

I just heard that South Korea is going to allow Christian groups to light three giant Christmas trees along the North Korean border. Seems nice.

But then on Sunday, according to Al Jazeera, your state-run Uriminzokkiri website called the effort a "mean attempt at psychological warfare," and said that following through would yield an "unexpected consequence."

More from GlobalPost: North Korea says Christmas lights are "psychological warfare"

Now, I know relatons aren't great between the North and the South, especially at the border. And I know that South Korea lit a tree there last year — after seven years of not doing so, and in the immediate aftermath of the strike on Yeonpyeong Island that killed more than 40 people and was blamed on the North.

So, I can understand why you would be sensitive about the border. But "psychological warfare"? Don't you think that's a bit extreme?

And by "unexpected consequence," do you mean you will take some kind of military action against them? I realize it's worded intentionally to be ambiguous, so that's why I'm writing to clarify.

Because "unexpected consequence," to me, could be like Santa coming. That would be an awesome and, yes, unexpected consequence of three massive Christmas trees shining lights all the way on into North Korea.

North Korea expert and author of "Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader," Bradley Martin, said he doesn't think you hate Christmas. He pointed out that in 1980, when you were officially elected to the five-person presidium of the politburo, the party newspaper Rodong Shinmun (Workers' Daily) wrote:

"People of the world, if you are looking for miracles, come to Korea! Christians, do not go to Jerusalem. Come rather to Korea. Do not believe in God. Believe in the great man."  

Martin told me that, far from hating Christmas, that you may actually love it. Love it so much you want to be it.

The North Koreans offered foreigners a pair of replacements for the father and son of the Christian trinity: "the star of guidance shining together with the benevolent sun" — the latter being, of course, KJI's old man, Kim Il Sung.

"I guess they just haven't gotten around to erecting their own tree," wrote Martin. "Or, more likely, they don't have enough electricity to light one up competitvely."

Martin is right, by the way. Your country is, really, really dark. In more ways than one. North Korea is dark in a metaphorical sense, since very little information flows in and out.

More from GlobalPost: North Korea is the world's largest information black hole

But it's also dark in a literal sense. This old photo of the Korean Peninsula from the Dept. of Defense really drives the point home:

At night, there are almost no lights in your whole country visible from space save in Pyongyang, the capital.

It is a dark, dark place. A place where you'd think three big Christmas trees, which are actually huge steel structures covered in lights, would be welcome.

The "trees" are to be lit on Dec. 23 and stay illuminated for 15 days.

Maybe during that period of time, you'll be able to catch a minute of down time and shoot me a line back, just clarifying a few of the things you said and answering the question whether you do in fact hate Christmas.

Thanks, Dear Leader. And — until I hear back at least — Merry Christmas.