Sunday, January 24, 2010

Laughter, Fear, and Kim Jong Il

In the book, Caricature, written by E. H. Grombrich and E. Kris, the general themes, qualities, and evolution of caricature is discussed and debated. The authors’ draw many insights into the genetic makeup of the modern caricature which they come to define as, “the comic distortion of an individual.” Following this basic style that is modern caricature, within the humorous alterations of the portrait, lays implied messages of ridicule, anti-authority, and revealing the individual’s true essence. The purpose of cloaking some of the pointed implications in laughter lessens the gravity of the situation. As in the reading, laughter and fear are related to each other, in that something so daunting may be altered to entice the opposite action of laughter, changing one’s opinion of alarm to that of nonchalance and superiority.

The satirical caricature of Kim Jong Il, drawn by Kevin Kallaugher (KAL), is an example of how comedy degrades the imposing situation or figure that is featured within the caricature. Fitting with the standards of caricature, Kim Jong Il’s portrait accentuates his small stature by enlarging his head, showing only his upper torso and feet, as well as by over shadowing him with a huge nuclear weapon that is five times his size. Staying in character, the caricature doesn’t leave out Kim Jong Il’s trademark glasses, tufted hair, zip up shirt, or frown.

Through the distortion of Kim Jong Il, the audience belittles his threat of safety and power, due to his size and immature way of thinking, as well as agreeing with the artist who shows that Kim Jong Il’s true nature is a mad scatterbrained temper tantrum throwing child.

~Christie Allen


  1. I found this very funny, I am of South Korean decent and am concerned with what is going on in both North and South Korea. It is always funny to see how Kim Jong Il is portrayed. However it is kind of getting old, all the short jokes. I would like to see a cartoon that makes fun of the large amount of action movies he owns.

  2. This is also interesting, because in a way the political cartoon is giving itself a role in the world, and validating it's statements. Hypothetically, if Kim John II first officer was referring to a political cartoon when discussing the world's view of Kim John II as erratic, paranoid, and backward then Kim John II next action goes to prove that he is exactly that, then the cartoons criticism of him is not an opinion anymore but a fact. It also set up a cartoon as an impetus for action, information that can make or break an reputation.A power that could cause anger or fear in the subject it happens to be critiquing.