Mickey Mouse and the Diplomatic Coup September 19, 2002 By Art Bushwald Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's historical visit to North Korea on September 17 culminated in what was considered by many to be a diplomatic coup - the announcement that within a month, Japan and North Korea would start on the road to normalizing relations. Almost immediately, political pundits and other observers attributed the breakthrough to a host of reasons. The ideologically minded claimed that it was yet another triumph of Western capitalism over godless Communism, while the pragmatists claimed that North Korea had no other choice but to join the modern world. Others maintained that North Korean strongman, Kim Jong-Il, had come to the conclusion that he needed many friends in the world because his many military blunders had made him realize that his country would be no match against a very belligerent United States. Others felt that maybe Kim had undergone some sort of spiritual transformation during his train treks across the vast Siberian wilderness. But overlooked by most of the pundits and experts was the crucial role that had been played by Mickey Mouse. The official story began in May 2001, when the son of Kim Jong-Il, then 29-year-old Kim Jong-Nam, tried to enter Japan with his wife, son, and sister-in-law. Knowing that he could never enter the Land of the Rising Sun with a passport from his native Land of Evil, the younger Kim had arranged to acquire travel documents from the "Dominican Republic". Surely Japanese Immigration would give a pass to these newly minted "Dominicans" ! But it was not to be. The younger Kim was caught red-handed at Narita International Airport and held in detention for trying to enter the country illegally. When asked why he had tried to sneak in, Kim replied "I wanted to take my family to Tokyo Disneyland!" Not being in a humorous mood, Japanese authorities decided to unceremoniously deport Kim Jong-Nam and his group to China. The luckless Kim was not even given the chance to shake hands with his idol Mickey! How did all this happen? Well, my sources in the Far East tell me it all began like this: The younger Kim had been a fan of the Wonderful World of Disney ever since he saw his first bootleg video of Walt's famous animated rodent. When told of the existence of Disneyland, he decided to make it his life's quest to visit Anaheim and "experience the magic" for himself. Unfortunately, his country was a member of the Axis of Evil (known as the "Evil Empire" in those days"), so he would never be allowed in to the United States. "Besides," said his father, "there are no trains going to America". The younger Kim fell into despair. What was the son of an evil dictator to do? By a sheer stroke of luck, the younger Kim learned that there was a Disneyland closer to home, in Japan. "Japan!" thought Kim. "Why, that's only a short leaky submarine ride away!" Unfortunately for Kim, however, all three submarines in his country's navy were a bit too leaky to make the trip to Tokyo. Surely there must be another way to fulfill his lifelong dream! As luck would have it, one day the younger Kim was thumbing through a recent issue of Despot's Daily, when he came across a most unusual ad. "Are you the child of a vicious tyrant who's tired of not being able to visit wonderful places just because of who your father is? Well, have we got some amazing news for you! Our company, Passports Unlimited, can fix you up with a passport from any obscure country you choose! Just imagine! For only a few thousand US dollars (in unmarked bills, of course), we can handcraft a genuine- looking passport for you that will fool immigration officials so you can sneak in and see the sights of London! Paris! Tokyo!" Kim's heart skipped a beat. "Tokyo!" he shouted ecstatically. "Wow! This is my ticket to Disneyland!" So the younger Kim immediately arranged for some passports from the "Dominican Republic" to be made for himself and his wife, son, and sister-in-law. Unfortunately, as was mentioned before, the Japanese authorities instantly recognized the work of Passports Unlimited and sent the hapless Kim family packing. When he arrived back in his home country, the younger Kim was in a funk. He had come SOOOO close to his dream! But he had been denied because his father was the leader of an evil country! "Dad", pleaded the younger Kim, "if we weren't so evil, maybe other countries would recognize us and then I could use my real passport to go to Japan so I could finally get into Tokyo Disneyland! Well, Dad, what about it, huh? Will you take a vow to refute evil?" Kim Jong-Il thought and thought. He kind of liked being a member of the Axis of Evil - after all, it was a sort of status symbol to be named one of the world's top villains, even if his ships and subs were constantly being sunk. But there was another problem - how could the older Kim explain the kidnappings of Japanese citizens that his country had committed? "Sorry," he told his son, "but I just can't bring myself to do it". But the younger Kim persisted. "Please Dad! It's not just for me, it's for my son, too! If we never normalize relations with Japan, I fear my son will never be able to experience the thrill of posing for photos in front of Cinderella's Castle while making "V" signs with his fingers!" Kim Jong-Il conceded that his son had made a very convincing argument. But there was still that pesky problem... How could he explain those kidnappings? Then he thought of a wonderful idea - he would take the "chimp" approach! That is, he would blame all his country's transgressions on his predecessor! And that is what happened. Kim Jong-Il apologized for the kidnappings, but blamed everything on his predecessor, his late father! As a result, his country started moving toward normalized relations with Japan! And the Kim Jong-Nam family had taken one step closer to their dream vacation at Disneyland!