Chairman Kim’s Future Golf Paradise
Late Summer, Year 2045
Wonsan, North Korea
Dog legs were first mistaken by the youthful American delegation to be a unique delicacy on the North Korean dinner menu. Pyongyang’s foreign minister, bemused, clarified for the 48 red-capped youths representing every state but New York and California that they were a recurring feature of the new Trump Wonsan Golf Paradise.
The clarification was greatly appreciated by the synchronous applauding and carefully selected American spectators on this auspicious day — the Grand Opening and Inaugural Round dedicated personally by America’s 46th president, Ivanka Trump, who entered office following the passage of the constitutional 2024 “Presidential Succession Act.”
It had been years since the U.S. president’s father had promised the immortal and glorious leader, Kim Jong-un, that a deal would turn his white sandy beaches, blue seashores and green fields into solid gold. That day had finally arrived. But not the way 45 had imagined.
Many things had changed since that first meeting at the Capella Resort on Sentosa Island, Singapore. As Donald Trump showed off “The Beast” and paternalistically promised Kim “only the best” vacation developments for North Korea, that younger Kim could only think about how he would bury America.
Bury it he did. It was a clever plan. One that could only be hatched in the Hermit Kingdom.
The year 2017 was a turning point for Kim. He saw first-hand the West’s vulnerabilities and vanity. Not only had he been humiliated by the Chinese who “lent” him an airplane to make his way to Singapore, he felt the “dotard” acted as if Kim was a dimwit. Kim swore at this moment as he looked inside the thick-doored, bomb-proofed, high-tech, Type-O-blood-transfusion-carrying black Cadillac that he would use the developed world’s hubris and advances to undermine it. He knew he would need to be methodical and that his revenge would be served cold.
During the last 28 years leading up to today’s hundred-year anniversary of the birth of the North Korean nation, the rest of the world raced to build connections and develop digital neural networks driven by an AI of enormous power. The technology had gone from making smart suggestions about books that users would appreciate to becoming a technology managing the West’s every single activity. Data was ubiquitous, capital globalized,and every person, place and thing were connected, tethered, and one.
Everywhere in the world but North Korea, of course. And, oddly, Greece, which continues to rely exclusively on paper ledgers, cash transactions and word of mouth.
That was Kim’s plan. He was unwilling to give up his nukes, only agreeing to lock them up while promising international inspection. That “freeze” brought him cash and crops and bought him time. His country’s gradually improving economic condition bought the loyalty of those who survived his brutality. Most important, he kept his country off the grid.
Devious. Kim hatched the plan even prior to Trump’s Asia visit, but his resolve was forged during the summit and sealed when he shook the president’s hand. The plan was simple, really. Keep North Korea disconnected while developing the most advanced cyberweaponry available.
The first part of the plan was easy. Kim’s countrymen already were used to eating grass during times of scarcity and acclimated to their inward-focused, survivalist lives. The slight improvement in their daily lives was steady and surprising. No longer spending the nation’s scarce resources on nuclear weapons development, Kim was able to provide his people more nourishment.
Direct aid in the form of used tractors, seeds, road-building equipment and computers came in sealed containers from the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Kim built infrastructure and turned his army into a workforce to develop the land, build housing and develop his fishing fleet. This was the period known as “The Awakening,” a period noted for one more thing: education. Students’ coding skills and network training made sure North Korea’s next-gen hackers could take down the rest of the world.
The 2014 Sony hack was the test bed for his plan. Sony was run by Kim’s arch enemies, Japan and America, and was an easy target — after all, no one liked Hollywood elites. Who cared if a bunch of movie stars’ emails were doxed and an entertainment corporation’s servers swiped? Washington was always looking to punish Hollywood studios, so the fact that Chairman Kim would do American politicians’ dirty work was met with indifference. And it was a great opportunity to test North Korea’s cyberattack capacities. “Win-win,” thought Kim.
Kim’s cyberforces took the NSA’s best tools of cyberdisruption and built their own offensive weapons. The strategy was simple. Burn out the power grids and overload the generation plants. Just fry them.
Kim’s recollection of the plan’s simplicity made him laugh on this opening day. With everything and everywhere connected, networked and data dependent it was easy as pie for Kim to disconnect nearly everything on Earth.
Markos Kounalakis took a job as a cabaña boy in North Korea following his years as a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.