The Daily Fail
February 20, 2014
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My colleague Clive Crook, with whom I have now had the honor of working at three great publications, pens a sober reflection on his role in making what may be the The Economist’s most famous cover:
People still mention it to me unprompted as their favorite Economist cover. Yet reading the UN report on North Korean atrocities, I felt a small pang of shame. As Bloomberg View says today, the Kims are all too easy to mock, but mockery really isn’t the right response. The right response is disgust.
I think we can agree there’s something funny about a chubby central planner with a perm, designer glasses and a romper suit, gravely accepting applause while his country sets the standard for economic failure. On the face of it, Kim Jong Il’s pudgy offspring has similar comic potential. However, even recognizing that incompetence at sufficient scale can cause enormous suffering, the elaborate cruelty documented in the UN’s catalog of horrors belongs in a different category. One that forbids satire.
You don’t make jokes about concentration camps and you don’t make jokes about torture, I thought as I read the report. It was a memorable cover, but there’s nothing funny about North Korea.
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