He likes fast cars and fast women, he’s been implicated in murder and terrorism, and he’s got nuclear weapons. But dismissing the North Korean dictator as crazy plays into his hands.
North Korean children are taught that Kim Jung Il, the Dear Leader, was born at a secret military base at the foot of a sacred mountain in North Korea and that double rainbows appeared at his birth. In fact, there never was such a secret military base; he was born at a dismal military post in Siberia where his father was then serving in the Soviet army. In order to make the father into war hero, the Soviets produced a series of faked documents and even a legend of his exploits. The North Korean propagandists have expanded and extrapolated these lies to give the Great Leader the aura of a god.
According to a North Korean book published in the mid 1990?s called Divine Stories About the Dear Leader, Kim Jung Il played his first round of golf and scored five holes-in-one. According to another tale, while inspecting the North Korean national pistol team, the Dear Leader took an old model pistol, fired ten shots and got ten bull?s eyes. There are equally fantastic tales of the Dear Leader?s literary and scientific skills. The Dear Leader, who never served a day in the military, is called a ?heaven-sent brilliant commander who will vent our bloody grudge and rage against the U.S. imperialists. He, too is approaching a god-like stature. North Korean families have a special towel whose only purpose in to keep dust off the portraits of the two leaders.
North Korea is worse off than the Soviet Union ever was during Stalin?s reign. It is built on a foundation of lies ? about the country?s leadership, North Korea itself, and the world beyond its borders. The cult of personality surrounding the Kims, father and soon, seems to have no limits. In a country without enough resources even for children?s school supplies, no expense is spared to glorify the Kims. The Great Leader?s statue in front of his Memorial Hall is almost eighty feet tall, perhaps the tallest such structure in the world.
Staged events in Pyongyang, involving tens of thousands of people, are similar to the ones seen in Leni Riefenstahl?s Nazi propaganda film, Triumph of the Will. This is not surprising since Kim Jung Il has been in charge of North Korean filmmaking and propaganda since the late 1960?s. A French reported, witnessing such an event, described it as ?a festival, which would have delighted the Nazis?. According to one defector report, on the evening of September 9, 1988, North Korea?s National Day, the Dear Leader arranged for 100,000 people to parade through Pyongyang using their torches to spell out the words ?Let us become suicidal units to protect the party!?
There are so many villas and palaces scatted around the country, that the Dear Leader sometimes does not get around to visiting them from year to year. One high-ranking defector claims, ?none of the retreats located throughout North Korea are without one of Kim Jung Il?s women, and his children would number seventy in all ? wow.
Next to the nuclear weapons, there is probably nothing more secret than the ?joy brigade,?. These are exceptionally pretty young women from the countryside who are brought to Pyongyang in their mid-teens. They are taught to sing and dance for the Dear Leader?s private parties. Their principal purpose, of course, is to become sex objects for the Great Leader and his closest aides.
In one instance, after a drinking party he told the male guests they could have any of the young girls they could catch. This led to ludicrous scenes of elderly drunken men chasing the girls all over the palace.
Kim Jung Il controls his country by terror. This terror system is sustained by the ?Gulag?. Not only are ?offenders? sent to these camps his or her entire family are also sent. These camps are designed to exploit the prisoners? labour until they die. Prisoners are given rations that would not sustain life in the long run. Since the political prisoners are never released, there is no danger of them divulging military secrets; they are assigned to work on missiles and other special weapons. One camp, Camp #14, is notorious for its use of prisoners ?as guinea pigs for developing chemical warfare technology,? according to information obtained by the Seoul Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights.
Since the North Korean secret police send entire families to the labour camps, they have a higher proportion of women imprisoned. According to a South Korean human rights group, it?s bad luck to be an even moderately attractive young woman in the camps. High Communist Party officials troll the camps looking for victims to be used as sex slaves. If the women become pregnant, they are forced to have an abortion without anaesthesia. When their usefulness is over, the women are murdered.
The prisoners of the North Korean gulags are filthy and disease ridden. Beatings, torture, and executions are common. Perhaps a third of the prisoners survive, for a while, as informers. In the end, death comes to nearly all of them, sooner rather than later. By some estimates, the North Korean gulag currently holds 250,000 men, women and children. An estimated 400,000 people have perished in the camps over the past few decades.
Between 1995 and 1998 there was a famine in North Korea in which two to three million people died of starvation and diseases related to malnutrition
What was the cause of the famine? Only 20% of North Korea?s land is suitable for agriculture. Communist-style collectivization and mismanagement made the situation worse. Prior to 1990, North Korea was exchanging its low-quality industrial goods with China and the Soviet Bloc for food at subsidized prices. When that ended, famine was almost inevitable.
How did the North Korean government respond to the food crisis? Kim Jung Il ensured that the military and the Communist elite were fed and left the rest of the population to fend for themselves. The government then sought international food aid.
Was it necessary for the North Koreans to seek international aid? A high ranking North Korean defector reported that the Dear Leader spent almost a billion dollars on a Memorial Hall glorifying his dead father. These sorts of projects continued unabated throughout the worst of the famine. In 1996, the Agency for International Development, hired an experienced researcher, Sue Lautze, to examine the food situation in North Korea. Her report concluded that the Kim regime had the foreign currency reserves to pay for its own food imports but that these financial reserves had been spent on weapons instead.
What effect did the famine have on the Kim family and its supporters? Almost none at all. In the summer of 2003 the memoirs of the Dear Leader?s Japanese chef were published in Japan. The chef revealed that Kim and his children continued to live the high life while his subjects starved. His menu includes the most expensive delicacies form around the world. He had 40,000 bottles of imported wine in his cellars. When his jet ski wasn?t fast enough, he ordered a bigger and faster one. When he wanted to get around one of his extensive estates, he just picked out a Honda motorcycle from a catalogue. For entertainment there was fishing, horseback riding, bowling, billiards, satellite TV, and films in the private screening rooms.
The Kim family has ruled over North Korea for sixty years. These have been years of unremitting state terror directed at the population, famine, and an exploding political camp system. The people of North Korea are worse off than they were even under Japanese colonialism. In the same sixty years, South Korea has moved from authoritarian rule to full, and often raucous, democracy. The people of South Korea live far better than Koreans have ever lived in their homeland before.