Kim Jong-un’s nicotine habit may yet be his undoing. That was the lesson from the defection, announced this week, of senior North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho.
Thae had been posted to London with his family, where they enjoyed the benefits of life in the West. Thae had a membership at a tennis club. His two sons attended local schools. They adapted readily to modern Western customs and norms, with not just a taste for uncensored media and Internet access, but an aversion to certain hateful practices common in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The boys, you see, found it hard to defend the government their father represented. As the New York Times tells it, “Their English friends taunted them with questions, like why Mr. Kim had smoked a cigarette inside a nursery.” They had seen photos from a 2014 North Korean press opportunity in which Kim, cigarette in hand, had visited a Potemkin orphanage. The right-thinking lads of London were appalled.
Never mind Kim’s reign of terror with its purges and summary executions; never mind the peninsular gulag of forced labor camps; never mind the mass starvation of an oppressed population; never mind the cartoon-villain haircut; never mind the nukes.
No, what makes Kim a diabolical madman is that he smokes in an orphanage nursery. The horror!
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard