Flat Earth: Nature nurtures kith and Kim

THE pathetic fallacy, so unfashionable in the West, is in its heyday in North Korea where, according to the official agen

cies, Nature herself joined the mourning for Kim Il Sung. A mass of tricoloured clouds and rainbows have appeared since his death; a swallow flew into a classroom in Nampo last week and 'wept for 10 minutes' in front of his portrait, while wild geese have been making a positive nuisance of themselves, 'wailing and circling around' Kim's statues. All who saw these things, said North Korean radio, immediately pledged loyalty to Kim Jong Il, Kim's son and heir. But there's something's odd here: reports of these prodigies began to appear two days before Kim's death on 8 July.

On 6 July, news agency KCNA reported that rare triple rainbows had loomed above Lake Samji near sacred Mount Paektu on 17 June. Now that was the very day that Jimmy Carter was in Pyongyang having talks with a hale and hearty Kim, and later announcing that the North had agreed to give up its nuclear ambitions. Could it be that the conspiracists were right, and that the old man, giving away Kim Jong Il's nuclear inheritance, just had to go?