I think all journalists should end every report with IDK THO LOL (“I don’t know though laugh out loud”) so people can’t sue them in case all their facts are wrong. Clever, no?
Legal matters are on my mind thanks to news reports sent in by readers. First up, police officers in India were thrilled to have tracked down and jailed the Forgery Kings, a sneaky duo reputed to be able to fabricate any document. The forgers then showed officers a document instructing them to immediately let them go — and they did. The penny didn’t drop until almost a month later.
This recent case in Mumbai reminded me of a case in Japan in which a guy nicknamed the God of Lockpickers was caught breaking into a building. Police locked him up, high-fived each other and went off to celebrate. He let himself out and switched off the light.
These cases I put into my Heavily Ironic True Crime Reports file. But neither of them take the top spot from possibly the most ironic case ever, one I followed closely in Hong Kong some years ago. A scary businessman was accused of intimidating witnesses, causing them to have sudden memory losses and withdraw from court cases. The case had barely started when the judge was told that all the witnesses had sudden memory losses and withdrawn from the case. In one stroke, the accused man secured an acquittal and provided strong evidence that he was guilty. What more proof is needed that irony is the guiding principle of the universe?
A colleague just read the paragraphs above and told me about Choi Gap-Bok, known as the Slipperiest Man in the World. After a lengthy chase, police in South Korea caught him and threw him in the slammer. He asked a prison guard to bring him his “skin cream”. He slapped it on and slipped through the tiny food slot in the jail door, just 5.9 inches (15 cm) high. It sounds impossible, but I totally believe it for two reasons: first, there are videos of him on the Internet and second, I read a lot of superhero comics, where this sort of thing happens practically every issue.
It happens in the West too. A foreign correspondent told me that in 2007 in France, gendarmes arrested members of the infamous Helicopter Gang and then let them exercise on the prison roof, where they were of course whisked to freedom in a helicopter.
But the US correspondent had the best tale. In 1947, cops caught Willie Sutton, Master of Disguise, and jailed him for life. He disguised himself as a prison warder and climbed up a ladder to get over the wall. When the spotlight operator shone a light directly on him, the Master of Disguise coolly called out: “It’s okay!” and the watchman let him go.
Don’t blame the guard. He was being guided by the Universal Law of Irony. In fact, I think I will hereby inaugurate International Irony Day which I will mark with an animal rights barbecue. IDK THO LOL.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)