North Korean soldiers take part in a mass parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il-sung's birth.

North Korean soldiers take part in a mass parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il-sung's birth. Photo: Reuters

The Government of the Republic promotes friendship and cooperation with the various countries of the world. It makes every effort in unity with all the peace-loving peoples of the world to ... reduce armaments, nuclear armaments in particular, thereby meeting the desire of human beings to live in a world, free from nuclear weapons. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea website

Once the above-said special actions kick off, they will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style. The Korean People's Army Command

It would be lunacy, rib-chuckling idiocy, if it were not so serious. Both statements are the creation of North Korea. Without knowing the author of the first, you could take it as the statement of a nation part naif, part hopeless idealist, maybe a recluse from the world, a Bhutan with a national happiness index switched on to a view of the unknown outside world.

Knowing the author, it's breathtakingly hypocritical. And yet, there it is: a nation that starves its people to feed its military spouting a philosophy of friendship and cooperation. It's despicable.

The second statement is, in its ridiculous way, at least honest. It was made this week by the "special operation action group" of the Korean People's Army's Supreme Command.

The Democratic People's Republic — a misnomer on the same level of a grand lie as the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) — was retaliating for the great hurt it had endured over a botched missile launch and perceived slights at the 100-year birthday celebration for Kim Il-sung, its founder, its ''Great Leader".

It is passing strange that a socialist state should embrace a familial dynasty; after the "Great Leader" came his son Kim Jung-il and then the present leader, Kim Jong-un.

One country's family values mean something different in another's. In North Korea, they mean tyranny. But like all tyrannical reigns, it demands of its downtrodden citizens an unquestioning love for the leader and state, while the state in return makes its people pawns in a pariah.

As to the words of statement No. 2, no sane person could have made them. Once actions kick off, they will reduce "all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means".

It could have just easily said: "Among our weaponry are such diverse elements as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope [read Great Leader. No. 3] and nice red uniforms."

The latter is, of course, Monty Python's take on the Spanish Inquisition. The Python team were joking. Alas, the North Koreans were not. Humour is not part of their weaponry, more's the pity.

One of the key planks of North Korea's massive military complex (which according to the US State Department has one of the largest armies in the world with about 1.2 million personnel actively deployed) is its unbending paranoia. What it doesn't see is that if it did not strike a belligerent posture and act as a threat then it wouldn't be treated as one.

Recently, a senior military officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Nam Dong Ho, gave an example of this. He said: "Nuclear weapons are not the monopoly of the United States." North Korea needed them because the US was a threat to his country, he said. Thus nuclear testing needed to be on the agenda.

The rest of the world would be better pleased to see a nation feeding its own people instead of buying arms. As it is, North Korea's stance is a constant threat to it receiving food aid from other countries, particularly the US, the nation it condemns as a threat to its existence.

It's true that the US stance is also less than pure, being as it is using such aid to bring into line a rogue nation.

The despairing result of all this is that it is the people who suffer, not the leaders. It's not enough that famines devastate the population, as North Korea endured in the nineties and from which it has not recovered, but that military madness should overwhelm all other considerations.

The health of a nation is more than its arsenal. It is more than its ridiculous posturing; its fanatical language dressed up as outrage.

Unfortunately, the grey men of Pyongyang believe what they say. In the end, theirs is a lexicon without humanity. Their grasp of humanity towards their own is peculiar, to say the least.

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