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I think this is getting needlessly messianic.

A couple of weeks ago it was the sixteenth anniversary of The Great Leader joining the Choir Invisible (“Song of the Tractor” division). The following is from the DPRK official website:

16 Years since the Death of Kim Il Sung

Fifteen years [!?] have passed since the death of President Kim Il Sung (1912-1994), founder of socialist Korea, and if one looks at the realities in Korea, one feels as if he is still alive leading his country and people.

Kim Il Sung Will Always Be with Us

At the news about the passing of President Kim Il Sung on July 8, 1994, the Korean people wailed in deep sorrow and grief at the loss of their leader. Millions of citizens of Pyongyang lined the street covering over 40km to bid the last farewell to their late leader. Beyond their expectations, funeral motorcade, with the portrait of the beaming leader at the head, made its way through the streets. Looking up the sunny portrait of the leader, the people were convinced that he had not passed away, that he had returned to life as a man of a sun-like image with a bright smile, and that he would always be with them. The Korean people call the portrait the beaming image of President Kim Il Sung. Ubiquitous in Korea are the portrait and the slogan “the leader Kim Il Sung will always be with us”.

Documentary films on the history of his revolutionary activities are produced one after another, and broadcast in cinemas and on TV. The Complete Works of Kim Il Sung and the Kim Il Sung’s Works are continuously published one volume after another, and the continuing editions of his memoirs With the Century are off the press. Radio and TV stations still begin their every programme with Song of General Kim Il Sung.
The Juche era with the year 1912, when he was born, as the first year was instituted, and April 15, his birthday, was designated the Day of the Sun. the Constitution of the country stipulates that Kim Il Sung is the eternal President of the DPRK.

The April Spring Friendship Art Festival, which had been previously held in a grand style in Pyongyang on the occasion of his birth anniversary, is still held. The heads of state and public figures of many countries still send gifts to Korea in his honour.

Why is it that communism (yeah, I know Juche is not quite the same thing) almost always, despite, being allegedly about “the people” tends to throw-up (in every sense) personality cults?


  1. Paul Marks says:

    Juche not being quite the same thing as Communism.

    Both North Korean Maxism (Juche) and Soviet Marxim are types of Marxism (much though some on the left try and deny this).

    It is like saying that “Total Submission of Self” ( the “Death Worship” of East Asia) is “not quite the same thing” as EngSoc (English Socialism). They were both admitted (in the novel) to have no practical differences.

    The North Korean regime has just got Marxism (where the state never really “withers away”) and added some mystical mumbo jumbo on top.

    Yes, formally speaking, that means it is not “proper Marxism” any more – but then neither is the Frankfurt School P.C. idenity politics Marxism that Barack Obama has been taught all his life. It is still hostile to civil society – and in much the same way.

  2. Mr Eugenides says:

    One of these days I’ll blog about my visit to Pyongyang, which included a trip to see Kim Il Sung lying in a glass casket in a huge, empty palace, and standing next to North Korean soldiers with tears in their eyes, bowing to the mummified corpse. It was by some distance the most surreal day of my life.

  3. Sam Duncan says:

    “…if one looks at the realities in Korea, one feels as if he is still alive leading his country and people.”

    Yep, can’t argue with that. Sadly.

  4. El Draque says:

    Try one of C. Northcote Parkinson’s lesser-known books, for the reason why Communism leads to rule by a personality.
    It’s called “The Evolution of Political Thought” (I think), I read it shortly after going through the famous “Parkinson’s Law”, about 45 years ago.

    Final chapter is about Communism, and he finishes by explaining that Communism is always followed by a king.

  5. David Gillies says:

    I just finished reading David Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter, which is a very good single-volume history of the Korean War, and one salient impression that I got was that had Doulas MacArthur been reined in earlier (and had he not been such a narcissist), Kim Il Sung would be a historical footnote. Land at Inchon, cut the country in half, withdraw. Result: North Korean collapse, no Chinese involvement, Kim Il Sung shown to be the pathetic little ape-creature he really was (the ChiComs and the Soviets despised him). Instead MacArthur pushed up to the Yalu and forced the Chinese in, which cost another three years of war and 50 thousand American lives. Kim was strategically and tactically inept, and if it had not been for MacArthur’s hubris, the world would know it (to the extent anyone had ever heard of the maggot.)

    There’s a small kernel of me that hopes that the NORKs will flip out and go for broke one day. It would finally give some resolution to the situation. The South Koreans continue to have their capital within artillery range of the DMZ, which is insane, and a real shooting war would leave the place in ruins, with hundreds of thousands dead. But North Korea would lose, and lose catastrophically. And I like dead Commies. A half-dozen stealth bomber raids on the country’s POL infrastructure would have them freezing in the dark. I doubt the Chinese would up the ante this time, either.

  6. Paul Marks says:


    There were vast numbers of Chinese troops already in North Korea.

    I repeat the Chinese were not “forced in” – there were already there (and had been for months) well behind allied positions. That is why the blow was so heavy – the Chinese attack from the north was made vastly worse by attacks by Chinese forces already behind allied postions.

    Either it was the greatest intelligence failure in history – or this information was kept from MacArthur on purpose.

    By the way “withdraw” was not a rational option – the enemy would simply have returned.

    Nor was stopping at the border between North and South Korea – MacArthur’s advance into the North was under orders.

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