WORDS IN THE HAND: KITH AND KIM
Flat Top's nuke-name for Fatty tops his catchy list
A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd
“Rusk and Bonesteel” sounds like the name of a baking company that specialises in hard biscuits, but as almost any Korean should be able to tell you, Colonel David Dean Rusk and Colonel Charles Hartwell Bonesteel III were the US army officials who drew a line across the middle of Korea on August 10 1945, giving the bottom half to the Americans and the top half to what were then called Soviets.
Dividing Korea into two separate countries did not change the names of the people on either side of the 38th parallel. There were just as many Kims to the north as there were to the south.
According to Britannica, about a fifth of Koreans have the surname Kim. Since the combined population of North and South Korea is estimated at about 77 million, that means there are roughly 15 million Kims.
The original Kim, also according to Britannica, was Kim Su-ro. He founded a kingdom in the year 42 which his descendants, all called Kim, ruled for 700 years. In 1948, under Kim Il-sung, they made a comeback.Britannica says “kim” means “gold” but several Korean language sites say it doesn’t mean anything so I’m not sure who to believe. I’m not even sure whether to believe that the steadfastly red nation of North Korea allowed a streak of orange to enter its ambit this month.
But there it was, in all its back-slapping, shiny-haired, high-definition satellite reality. Kim and Trump, clasping fat little hands in amity instead of bickering about whose button is bigger (although possibly they returned to this game afterwards when they were served milk and hard biscuits in the playroom).
What did they call each other when they were left alone together with the toy soldiers, I wonder? The Donald is famous for many things, one of them being the zeal with which he doles out nicknames to people he does not like. There is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the names Bratman has called his opponents.
Mostly, Orange Julius reserves his naming creativity for members of the media and his own administration, but on a few significant occasions he has branched out to dispense special pet names to other world leaders.
Canadian premier Justin Trudeau, in Panda-hair’s lexicon, is simply “Justin from Canada”. Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is “that gas killing animal”, and proponent of Scottish independence Alex Salmond is “mad Alex”.Topping the list of catchy nicknames the Demander-in-Chief has coined, however, is “Little Rocket Man”, which is what he called Kim Jong-un before they became best buddies and agreed not to blow up the world.
In his own country, and possibly now also in the White House, Kim is known by more respectful names. He is not the president – that name belongs to his grandfather, who will forever be president-for-eternity – he is “Marshal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, First Chairman of the National Defence Commission, First Secretary of the Workers’ Party, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army”.
Informally, his subjects may call him Outstanding Leader, Young General, Great Successor, Brilliant Comrade, Young Master and, on special occasions, Lil Kim.
In March, the Chinese were so worried about their less-disciplined citizens insulting Kim during his discreet state visit that their censors wiped the Internet of all references to his name and that of his country.
Those brave souls who continued to speculate about Kim’s visit on social media were forced to come up with code names. “Fatty on the train” and “the obese patient” were trending, according to Business Insider. More cautious observers stuck to “the visitor from the northeast” and “the sibling next door”.One can say a lot of bad things about the Prince of Orange, but at least he has not (yet) attempted to ban the dissemination of his multiple nicknames. Regardless of the size of their buttons, this is one area where Flat Top I beats Fatty III little-hands down.
The Find Nicknames website lists (at time of writing) 409 alternatives for Trump. That’s more words than the Alaskans have for snow. I can’t even begin to pick the best ones, although Bribe of Chucky, Cheeto Jesus, Cinnamon Hitler and The White Kanye are right up there.
It is possible that the two supreme whatsits became a little less formal once all the boring business of denuking had been attended to. It is hard to picture them sharing a bowl of kimchi and calling each other Fatso, but stranger things have happened.
It is also feasible that this surreal soirée was staged, like the moon landings, by a clever team of CGI artists. Although on balance probably not. Nothing can be quite as weird as two people called Bonesteel and Rusk being given a pen and ruler and told to draw an arbitrary line that would cause decades of war – and that really happened.