VOX POPULI: After all the theatrics, little has changed in N. Korean drama

VOX POPULI: After all the theatrics, little has changed in N. Korean drama
13 Jun

In differentiating “suspense” from a “surprise” element in a movie, director Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) once cited a scene where two men are having a chat, when a bomb explodes suddenly and jolts the audience.

That, he explained, is surprise, and not suspense, according to “Hitchcock/Truffaut,” a book about Hitchcock by French film director Francois Truffaut (1932-1984).

But the same scene can become suspenseful, Hitchcock went on, if the audience knows there is a ticking time bomb placed there. The audience would be itching to shout and warn the men, “Hey, this is no time for your idle chatter!”

It feels as if I have been made to watch a long-running suspense movie since last year.

North Korea has nuclear weapons and missiles, and its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump have been trading insults, making me want to shout, “Hey, this is no time for keeping up your asinine exchanges!”

Has this movie finally reached a happy ending? I wish I could believe that, but I don’t, really.

The two leaders issued an agreement, committing themselves to working toward peace and “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. But nothing was said about a specific timetable or verification procedure.

I suppose we can say the danger of Asia becoming a battlefield is being averted for the time being–a year or two years, perhaps? Or could this lead to long-term detente?

It is now the job of top officials in Pyongyang and Washington to flesh out the pathetically sketchy blueprint drawn by their bosses.

Kim reportedly quipped during the summit, “Many people will think of this as a scene from a fantasy … science fiction movie.”

But this is an unfolding reality. We are not watching a film or show, sitting safely in our chairs.

–The Asahi Shimbun, June 13

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.



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