Tuesday, 13 July 2004

Our Great and Respected Leader: Part 2

...continued from Part 1
During my time in Pyongyang I never saw President Kim Il Sung, much less met him, and he didn't even attend the international championships which were the reason I was there, although it was a hugely significant event for his country, with more nations participating than any event there before or since.

But he was everywhere: an inch high on every lapel, fifteen feet high in bronze, thirty feet high on posters. And on everyone's lips "....The great revolutionary Leader Comrade Kim Il Sung, the ever-victorious ironwilled brilliant commander and the outstanding military strategist performing immortal feats in defeating US imperialism..."

But to us, in private, he was always Chubby-Chops.

It was not only US imperialism he had defeated: he was the "creator and leader of the anti-Japanese guerrillas, who liberated the country from the yoke of oppression..." Actually it wasn't quite like that; the anti-Japanese guerrillas (Korean and Chinese) had some success in Manchuria in the 1930s but were eventually defeated and Kim went to Moscow. In 1945 the war ended, the Japanese moved out of Korea and the Russians moved in, bringing Kim with them and installing him as a puppet leader.

In a few years Kim, by playing the Chinese against the Russians, had made himself the unquestioned (and Great and Respected) leader and was able to outdo his former sponsors in organising Moscow-style demonstrations of military might and his people's affection:

...continued in Part 3

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds a bit like what they're trying to do with Ronald Reagan over here across the pond. I keep waiting for them to call him the Great Leader, Bush Sr. the Dear Leader, and G.W. Bush the Sort-of-OK Leader.

Tony said...

Yes, but deifying dead leaders is fairly harmless really. The Romans did it, but it was only when when the Emperors started to declare their godhead while still alive that the empire had real problems, and often they got round these by killing the emperors.
We couldn't do this with Thatcher or Blair or Bush, of course; perish the thought.

Anonymous said...

There's a typo here. You accidentally put a 't' in the first word of the last line of the second paragraph.

Tony said...

Can't find it.

Grumio said...

You surely meant immoral, not immortal

Tony said...

Grumio:
Right, got you. But, you see, on my monitor the word doesn't come where you said; you must be using a Commodore PET with a 9" screen or something like that. I can offer you a nice second-hand PC, including Windows 95, for £150 if you want to upgrade.

Grumio said...

I'll stick with my Amstrad PCW 9532, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Deifying dead leaders these days may be fairly harmless, but it's rather tacky. We've certainly gotten some ugly buildings because of it here in Washington, DC (e.g. the giant stone phallus that is the Washington Monument). I guess the pyramids are nice to look at, but the countless slaves who died building them might've argued that the deification of Khafre wasn't as harmless as all that.