Kim Watch: North Koreans have a new father
A few years ago, a Western businessman visited North Korea and before leaving for home, he told a local man, “I can only see two fat people in your country – your leaders.” It is not difficult to imagine that this honest fellow was detained by North Korean authorities for a few days before being kicked out of the country. He lived to tell the tale, and was lucky, compared to University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier from the United States. The poor young man lost his life for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel room to show off back home.
North Korea is a country where no one is allowed to make any negative comments about the Kim family unless they have a death wish. On the other hand, every single word that the leaders say must be written down, turned into doctrine and published as books that the whole country is ordered to study and learn by rote. As soon as the Leader appears anywhere, people around him must prepare a notebook to write down every single word he says.
This practice began with Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea. He invented the “Juche” ideology of North Korean self-reliance, which is also called “Kimilsungism.”
The philosophy was published as a book, and it must be memorized by every North Korean as soon as they start to read and write.
Now, all books written by Kim and his descendants must be studied and learned by heart. There are even competitions on knowledge of Kim Il-Sung’s book of Juche ideology. Some people can tell you on which page a certain paragraph or sentence appears.
The main theme of the book is how a leader is like a father. Just as a biological father gives biological life, the Leader gives political life. Like a father, the Leader is a benefactor, has absolute power at home, and should be obeyed, respected and loved. As with a father, the people must be unconditionally loyal to their Leader.
Though the schooling Kim Il-sung had is limited to primary school in Korea and a year and a half of secondary school in Jilin City, China, North Koreans hail him as the greatest philosopher and thinker the world has ever known.
In North Korea, even basic arithmetic lessons cannot be separated from the Dear Leader. A typical question might go like this: “If there are three boys who passionately love the Grand Marshal Kim Il-sung and four girls who also passionately love the Grand Marshal Kim, how many children are there?”
For Army Day on April 25, one North Korean composer wrote a song called “You are our real father.” It was a hit, just as was a previous song, “We cannot live without you.” This new song encourages all North Koreans to call 34-year-old Kim Jong-un “Father.”
The song has a beautiful melody, but the lyrics are enough to send chills down one’s spine and make one burst out laughing at the same time. “We know we are lucky to live next to his bosom,” it goes. “We want to be held tight by him, the more we see him, the more attractive he is to us. Oh, Comrade Kim Jong-un, you are our real father.”
In traditional Korean culture, the father has the last say at home, the father’s words are nearly equal with God’s words; neither the children nor even the wife should talk back to the father or doubt him. Psychologically, this song strengthens the position of Kim Jong-un in North Korean people’s minds. They all have a new, young father.