‘Hermit kingdom’

[Sent to the Cambodia Daily in December 2001. Not published.]

Your December 20 article on Korea and “rogue states” reprinted from the Washington Post contains a useful reminder of the ignorance that governs public affairs in the United States. The Post reporter, Doug Struck, informs us that “North Korea … was so isolated until recently that it was called the ‘hermit kingdom’”.

At the risk of leaving dumb Struck dumbstruck, I would point out that the name “hermit kingdom” was applied (by Westerners) to Korea as a whole until 1876 – not to North Korea, which was not a separate country from South Korea until 1945.

The Washington Post is of course one of the most “reputable” papers in the United States, a “journal of record”. Its ignorance about the next, or next plus one or next plus two, “terrorist enemy” therefore tells us something about the reliability of the information being provided to the US public.

The US may know nothing about the countries it is preparing to bomb back into the Stone Age, but at least its bombs are smart.

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