In light of Donald Trump promising Kim Jong-un “fire and fury,” the prospect of waking up to find a major American city destroyed by a nuclear bomb is no longer a far-fetched fear. Thanks to late-night shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, we can sort of pretend that there is some comedic value in the constant anxiety looming over our heads that stems from the dread of being obliterated.
In his latest episode, Oliver tackles the ever-growing danger of nuclear war with North Korea by assuring us that it’s okay to respond to the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years time?” with a scream of terror. He also makes North Korea way less scary by detailing their obsession with the accordion and showing a YouTube video of a group of North Koreans playing A-ha’s “Take On Me” on the non-threatening instrument.
On a more terrifying note, Oliver reports that anti-American sentiment is rampant and is even indoctrinated in North Korean children by seeping into their math lessons. One woman who escaped the country recalls, “In math books it says, you know, ‘There are four American bastards. You kill two of them. Then how many American bastards are there left to kill?’ And as a child I had to say, ‘Two American bastards.’ And that was my education.”
As Oliver responds: Holy shit. The North Korean government even commissioned stamps that portrayed D.C. being destroyed by missiles and a video that depicted New York City being demolished while “We Are the World” plays in the background. Oliver asks the key question in this situation: “What are we going to do about this?”
Oliver admits that he doesn’t exactly know the solution, but he did have a message for any North Koreans that were watching on the off chance that the show was smuggled into the country:
Hi, North Korea. You may be hearing some frightening rhetoric from our president, but if it helps at all, when our president says words, he doesn’t necessarily mean what those words mean. It’s very difficult to describe to you. We’re still trying to wrap our heads around it ourselves. Really, it’s our problem, except it is now kind of your problem, too. But I want to talk to you about some misconceptions because we certainly have misconceptions about you. But, you should know, ideally, that we are not remotely what your state propaganda implies either. We honestly do not spend our days plotting your destruction. We spend them sharing cat memes and spinning fidgi and getting furiously angry about a singing boy barely appearing in our favorite dragon show. So, for what it’s worth, I would like to give you, the North Korean people, a sense of how America is feeling right now in a way that you might understand and enjoy. And that is through the international language of the accordion.
The bit ends with Weird Al Yankovic playing the accordion and begging North Koreans to give us a chance, which is something we never thought we would see.
Watch John Oliver try to make sense of a horrible situation above.