TIME, in its recent issue, featured the new North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un on its cover illustrated by Tim O’Brien. TIME executives have coined him “Lil’ Kim” as the title so blatantly blasts.
In the cover article titled, “Meet Kim Jong-Un,” information about his early life to his present day situation is covered. Kim is reported as being very smart and reliable, yet that his skills are not necessarily important - simply the ability to keep things at status quo will be enough in order to keep the North Korean regime from collapsing. In addition, the article features little tidbits like how Kim was an avid fan of the Chicago Bulls during his early years studying in Switzerland - so much so that he wore a jersey of Dennis Rodman around. Though this may well be compelling information on this 29-year-old successor, we may very well wonder why such a comically natured nickname such as “Lil’ Kim” must even exist. Isn’t it enough that he is now the leader of nuclear armed nation, capable of initiating World War III? The name-play is punny, but there really is no association (nor should there be) with actual ever-so-classy rapper Lil’ Kim and a dictator responsible for millions of citizens deprived of essential human rights. Also, don’t forget the accompanying words: “A look into the bizarre world,” aka the nation of North Korea.
It may be in our interest to think about what message this sort of cover sends out to those passing by newstands in both America and Europe. The nation is secretive, it’s true, and its leaders have or have had their set of particular interests from basketball to expensive liquor. But, to those of us not familiar with the nuclear arms situation in North Korea or the human rights situation there, this cover may be one of the few impressions we’ll ever have of this “bizarre” nation. Is that really fair?