[September 16, 2014] The North Korean government sentences another American citizen to prison. While this has been widely reported in the U.S. press, it does not represent the real story here. All that we know is reported by North Korea and that is not an oddity in itself but should be. In this case an American citizen is charged with a minor offense and sentenced six years hard labor for “acts hostile” to the government.1 The real story is about the North Korean government wanting international attention focused on it.
This is where the study of leadership can be found. A reminder that many people have dedicated their careers to the study of this “hermit kingdom” and have yet to unmask the real reason things are done there. There are some good ideas and theories have been advanced. The most plausible explanation for this event has to do with the socialist-dictatorial government itself. Socialists require attention. Form is more important than substance. What people say is more important than what they do. And, of course, this is just one of the many reasons that socialism is a failed system both economically and socially.
Yes, people will say that North Korea is a communist nation. Communism there, however, is just a convenient label. The real government is socialist and the principles of socialism are to be found everywhere. The fact that the government is a dictatorship simply enhances the socialist impact on a nation that wants to be respected more than it wants its citizens to prosper.
And so, they need attention most of all. In the past the U.S. has furnished this attention by sending high-ranking government officials and celebrities to ask their government to release our citizens. I suspect this will likely happen again. Thus, we reinforce the cycle of sentencing Americans to prison, a big announcement in the press to get international attention, and then getting someone famous to travel there to plea for the release of a citizen.
The U.S. government has already demanded the release of the latest detained citizen. Thus, the cycle begins anew. Can the current U.S. government break this cycle of attention-getting? Probably not for now. The best of senior leadership however demands that we do just that.
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