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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

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Looking down on Kim Jong Il

In a country of abject poverty, where millions have died of malnutrition and starvation and where large concentration camps can be found, North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il lives well. Outside Pyongyang, a facility known as "Residence No. 55" is the official residence of North Korea's president. While Kim has other residences, this, say U.S. and Japanese officials, is the main one.

Kim_jong_house
Satellite photo provided to NBC News by GeoEye.

It is unlike other dictators' residences -- neither as grandiose as Saddam Hussein's various palaces with their monumental architecture and statues of mythical animals, nor as simple as Punto Cero, the Castro family compound west of Havana, with its small, tasteful residences for Fidel and his family, set in a park-like area. 

The main residence apparently is a large building set aside a man-made lake with tiny islands connected by walkways. But also visible is a large security building with a running track and athletic field [Castro has one as well] and a private parade ground and stand, apparently for reviewing the North Korean Praetorian Guard. Nestled in nearby woods are smaller residences for favored members of the Kim family (Castro has those as well, while Saddam's family had separate palaces). The two buildings with green roofs look like theatres to the uneducated eye (Kim is a film buff with encyclopedic knowledge of American movies). And of course, there is the requisite helipad.

Inside, according to those who have had the privilege, are ornate furnishings, deep plush carpets and fancy chandeliers.

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COMMENTS

Amanda from Colorado,

Growing up in America, it’s hard NOT to be caught up in its consumption, its wastefulness, or its "game shows." I too was wasteful (especially of food and water). I too wanted a sports car. I too became entranced in its grand illusion. Life, however, is not a game. We are not just members of a mere nation but of the human race. As members we are entitled to enjoy some of the finer things that life has to offer. Perhaps a good music CD, some butter cookies, some extra SLEEP for a change. Most of the finest things in life hardly cost 20 dollars – sometimes just barely. It is only the size of our ego and our arrogance that demands so much more. The proverbial battle-of-the-Jones’ where we all but go broke trying to show “We’ve made it!”


We look at the things we own, more as we wish others to see them, not for what they are. We’ve literally become more interested in our own “status” than in actually getting more out of life itself. Showcase second formal living rooms and showcase second formal dining rooms that aren’t even used 1% of the time for the purpose they are intended. 35K sports cars purchased and yet driven so casually that for the last 19 years my 72-hp Chevy Nova (driven aggressively) has been easily able to pass and pull away from every “GT” ever built. Where’s the realism? Where is the concern or the “engaged spirit” driven to do more than just sit idle in front of the TV each night? The problems that people ignore, overlook, or are just plain languishing in denial about, are too numerous to mention here. Needless to say the impoverished in North Korea (every bit our own brothers and sisters as the impoverished citizens not more than five miles for my home or yours) are but just one small, forgotten part of how much and how bad things really are: environmentally, socially, politically, and humanitarianly.


Much as this article was written to suggest Kim is somehow “distant” regarding the plight of his people or perhaps even “arrogant” while living in a virtual resort while others have not, I will argue that he is not alone.

Chris Eldridge (former homeless person)
Author of Conceptual Communal Home Design
(Willing to share everything I have for the betterment of everyone I can help: elderly parents, children, or friends in need)

Considering the emergence of North Korea in the news, are there any plans for NBC to air a documentary on the country? CNN aired one over the summer that was fascinating and it left me wanting to learn more about this country.

Most Americans are pretty ignorant about the threat this country poses to us (and the rest of the world). Perhaps a prime time special would wake up some of them.

Kim John Il's home is a reminder of an age-old adage: Power corrupts. This demonstrates, once again, why democracy is so important to the success of a nation (and by nation, I mean each and every individual residing in a country). I say this even as members of our own national leadership are embroiled in scandal. People need the ability to hold their leaders accountable, as leaders should be accountable to the people, and not vice versa. I believe this will not be possible unless a democratically elected government is organized and operating in small, localalized communities. This allows focused efforts on community needs, less opportunity for pork, waste and special interest spending, and more open/honest government action. It is our only hope for efficiency, truth and accountability from our leadership, both here and abroad.

Mr. Eldridge from PA,
You are free to call me arrogant because I drive a nice car and wear nice clothes because you live in America, just as I am free to criticize you for writing such an absurd comment.
First, America is not responsible for the poverty of North Korea. Perhaps the fact that Mr. Hollywood uses all NK's incoming aid to build nuclear weapons instead of feeding his own people has something to do with that country's poverty.
Second, South Korea is a "success story" because their leader is not obsessed and clouded by a fanatical ideation to nuke America like a certain Nicholas Meyer film. Rather SK uses the aid they receive to better the plight of their nation as a whole.
Third, this is a classic "darned if you do, darned if you don't" situation. America doesn't help the poverty stricken countries and their leaders and people like you criticize us for not doing enough, thus, it's our fault that they are impoverished. We do try to help out and we are criticized for "trying to rule the world". So which is it Mr. Eldridge?
By the way I worked very hard to get where I am and was able to do so because of the country I live in. I do not consider myself arrogant because I drive a nice car or wear nice clothes or take in an occasional "fancy" dinner every now and again, because I have earned everything that I have, be it materialistic or not. I do give to various charities to help my fellow Americans in need because I believe it is important to help them (as they are more gracious and thankful) before reaching out to those who dislike me because of the country in which I live.

According to the International Red Cross, over 1 billion people live in nothing more than shantytowns. As it stands, society only thinks it's advanced, but it has yet to solve very many of the world's problems and is only creating that many more as it goes. When will society decide to address its food, water, energy, education, healthcare, environmental, and housing concerns? Those are measures of how good a civilization truly is, not who has the biggest MOAB bombs and most deadly aircraft.

Many nations epitomize such discrepancies and it is a bad mark on us all. I look around at the people even in this nation driving around in the newest sports cars and SUVs and I have to wonder how disconnected are they to what is going on all over the world as well. To me, such things are more of a mark of arrogance than that of success.

Wasn't North and South Korea on the verge of unification during the early 90s? South Korea is certainly a major success story with the world's largest ship building port and several other of the world's largest factories. I think it is inevitable that North and South unite but under what conditions I do not know. It seems the superpowers have more to say that the pawn-like nations under their control. The fact that any nation in the world exists with such poverty is a sign of poor leadership on the part of America (democratic presidents included) and other superpowers. We are better than this. Every person dying of starvation could hold the key to cancer or our looming energy crisis. Every person has the potential to become a doctor or engineer if only we valued life as much as we say we do. All peoples matter. For an interesting look at grand engineering projects that give me hope that we can make it (ALL OF US) take a peak at:

http://boards.msn.com/MSNBCboards/thread.aspx?ThreadID=96159

He must have very good help. Wonder if their paid very well? Silly me, of course not! Anyone does'nt do a good job, gets fired...upon! Plenty mor where they came from!

Nice place he's got, there. I wonder if he's a Michael Jackson fan.

Kim Jong Il's pad would make a spectacular crater.

Then, at last, the North Korean people would be free.

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