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THE OFFICIAL PROPAGANDA IN THE DPRK: IDEAS AND METHODS


by Andrei Lankov

The following article is an enlarged and re-worked English version of a chapter from Severnaia Koreia: vchera i segodnia (North Korea: Yesterday and Today), published in Russian in 1995 (Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura)


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There is hardly a country in the modern world which could rival the DPRK in the intensity of its domestic propaganda. The special emphasis on non-economic (mostly ideological) incentives declared by the country's leadership has greatly facilitated the extensive development of propaganda in North Korea. The purpose of this paper is to outline the major premises and methods of modern North Korean domestic propaganda. This topic is huge, therefore this chapter will not attempt to serve as a systematic study of North Korean propaganda, since such a study would warrant much more space. Rather it will take for of notes dealing with various aspects of propaganda in North Korea. These notes are to a large extent based on personal observation, both from the author’s own days in North Korea as well as from talks with North Korean students in the former Soviet Union. Since these talks took place largely in the late 1980s, this paper reflects primarily the situation of the late 1980s and early 1990s, although some remarks about more contemporary developments have also been added. Nevertheless, even with such a piecemeal approach, the author has had no choice but to impose some additional limitations on the narrative. Due to a lack of space we are not able to consider, for example, such interesting problems as the historic evolution of North Korean propaganda or its propaganda activities abroad.  

 

Leonid Petrov's KOREA VISION Online

 

The most characteristic feature of North Korean propaganda is the almost sterile information environment in which it is able to operate. In the last few decades the North Korean authorities have successfully maintained a virtually complete information monopoly within the country's borders. All but a tiny fraction of the information available to the average North Korean has been provided by some government agency. This monopoly is not challenged by any alternative source, either internal (for example, legal or illegal press) or outside (the foreign broadcasting and print media). The DPRK is a unique example of an almost "hermetically" sealed society. Except for a small elite, North Koreans know of the world only what they are allowed to know by their government and all information is selected by the authorities according to very strict criteria. Of course, some rumours do leak from outside or from people who have authorised access to politically sensitive information, but these rumours obviously do not have a broad circulation, not least because of the fact that the unauthorised on-telling of such an information is also very risky. 

Since the outside world is seen by North Korean authorities as a source of danger and ideological corruption, the utmost care is taken to seal all possible channels by which unauthorised data from the outside could otherwise filter into the North Korean information space. Obviously, of these channels, radio is the most "natural" source of unwanted information: it is easy to use, relatively cheap (even by North Korean standards), and portable, as well as capable of being received at long-distances -- i.e. from foreign or South Korean radio stations. Thus, radio is a source of the special attention by the authorities and is kept under particularly harsh control. Pyongyang does not follow the old Soviet example of jamming foreign radio stations. The North Korean authorities have found a cheaper, and more reliable solution: they have simply banned the domestic sale and use of the free-tuning radio receivers. The small lamp receivers which can be bought in North Korean shops (of course, one has to have special permission to buy even this piece of vintage technology) are fixed on the wave-length of the official broadcasting station. Certainly, a person with some technical knowledge can easily make the necessary changes and transform such a receiver into a real radio set. To prevent this from happening, the police undertake periodic random inspections of all registered receivers. Controlling the "right" use of radio receivers is also an important task of the heads of the so-called "people's groups" (inminban) {*1}. According to some reports, the head of inminban can break into any house at any time (even in the dead of night) to check whether there is a non-registered receiver present. Such measures, obviously, are not water-proof, since at least one of the author’s North Korean acquaintances had access to a "normal" radio with free tuning and listened to foreign programs with his family, but this was, no doubt, a rather risky business. 

In the DPRK, the circulation of any foreign newspapers and magazines is also strictly forbidden. Of course, the largest libraries hold these items, but they are kept in special depositories of foreign and other politically subversive publications, such that access to them is well nigh impossible even for professional linguists. The passes to these special depositories are controlled by the political police, and by definition a pass can only be granted to absolutely reliable personnel. This system of 'special depositories' was obviously designed according to the Soviet tradition, but in North Korea it is far more restricted than was the case in the USSR. The foreign books on open access in libraries are almost exclusively technical reference books and publications on the natural sciences. All foreign fiction, as well as all foreign social and political literature must be sent to special depositories. Even books or newspapers from other socialist countries were not excepted from this rule. This is understandable, since even in the 1970s, the official Soviet (not to mention Polish or Hungarian) press was a great deal more open than its North Korean counterpart and hence it could easily divulge information the North Korean authorities considered unnecessary or even subversive. 

It is also virtually impossible to glean any “unhealthy” information from one’s personal contacts with foreigners. Any unauthorised interaction with foreigners is strictly forbidden and breaking this rule would bring about significant problems. Those few foreigners who live in Pyongyang are able communicate mainly with specially selected and trained people who have gone through a thorough security check and most probably are either police informers or full-time agents of one of the security services. 

Needless to say, North Koreans are not able to travel abroad at will. At different times, especially in the 1950s, a considerable number of North Korean students studied in the USSR, China and other countries, but tourism has never been an option. These exchanges decreased drastically in the early 1960s, and since then only members of the elite had been able to go abroad, and then only infrequently. An important exception are the North Korean loggers who have been working in the Soviet Far East since the late 1960s. To counter their relative freedom, however, their contact with the local population is severely limited and strongly discouraged. They live in special settlements looking much like labour camps under the control of the security services staff. For these few decades the North Korean logging camps have remained a state-within-a-state, and interaction between their 'inmates' and the sparse Russian population in the surrounding areas has been very limited, almost non-existent. 

All these measure mean spatial isolation. However, unwelcome ideas, as well as facts undermining the official world view, can emerge not only from abroad but also from inside the country, from the earlier North Korean, not to mention pre-1945, publications and press. Anyone is in danger of reading something "wrong" in an old book or journal, especially published in earlier, slightly less repressive, times. For example, old publications could favourably mention personalities who eventually became victims of purges or non-persona, or reveal too much about the Soviet aid, or mention some earlier, now officially rejected, version of Kim Il Song's biography. In order to prevent this, a simple but quite effective Orwellian solution has been found: all literature published more than 10 or 15 years ago is also, like foreign publications, kept in special depositories and can be accessed only with the permission of security agencies. The only exception to this rule is technical literature {*2}. 

As a result, the North Korean propaganda agencies find themselves in a situation which is unusual even by the standards of other Communist countries. All Communist regimes to date have striven to maintain a complete monopoly on information, but none of them (Stalin's Russia included) ever came as close as North Korea to achieving this ambitious goal. All Communist regimes have been more or less xenophobic, but very few can rival DPRK's in this respect. As the state has a near absolute monopoly on information, there is little need to undertake any counter-propaganda measures. Ordinary citizens receive only that information which the official bodies find fit to deliver to them, they are shielded from the challenges posed by alternative world views. 

Another remarkable feature of the North Korean propaganda system is its consistency across almost four decades. The current North Korea regime was largely formed by the late 1950s. Obviously, some changes have occurred subsequently, but these have not been fundamental. This applies also to propaganda. The basic principles of North Korean propaganda (the greatness of Kim Il Song and his family, chuch'e nationalism, virulent attacks on the USA and, more particularly, South Korea) have remained unchanged. As a result, two or perhaps three generations have already grown up under the extremely intense influence of essentially the same brand of propaganda. All North Koreans younger than 55 have been subjected to such intense indoctrination from primary school. 

The combination of these three factors - the intensity of the propaganda, the decades-long stability of its basic ideas, and a self-imposed information isolation - makes the North Korean propaganda, as well as ideological life in North Korea in general, a unique phenomenon. 

 

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For many decades the main theme of North Korean propaganda has certainly been the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Song, his illustrious deeds and his invaluable service to the country. From the late 1970s this has been augmented with the increasingly aggressive glorification of his son Kim Chông Il who was officially declared the heir designate and "heir to the great chuch'e revolutionary tradition". In 1994 Kim Junior indeed succeeded his father as supreme leader of North Korea. Any propaganda is an attempt at myth-making or myth-promotion, and in North Korea most official myths are centred around the sacral Kim family. "Rearing in the spirit of love for the Leader" (or, in other words, the implantation of the personality cult of Kim Il Song) for decades has been seen as the most important propaganda goal. The basic methods of such “rearing” were once borrowed from Stalin's USSR, but the current North Korean propaganda has long since left the original Stalinist patterns far behind. The scale of the "rearing in the spirit of love for the Great Leader" is difficult to imagine for anybody who has never visited the DPRK. Not just the mass media, but also the cinema, theatre, and literature consistently underline the myth that since his early youth Kim Il Song has been the Great Leader of the entire Korean people who are indebted to him for everything. In the world of North Korean propaganda, all good things happen only because of the Great Leader and his son. As one of the frequently performed songs has it,  

    Who gave us the happiness of today?

                It was given us by the party and the Leader.

                            Along the way pointed out by the Great Leader Marshall Kim Il Song,

                                            we will march not sparing our lives! 

Both Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il have long lists of honorific titles. Some of these are standard and common, while some are obviously the result of eulogists' personal creative efforts. Thus, Kim Il Song bears such titles as “Great Leader of our Party and the People”, “Marshall of the Mighty Republic”, “Genius of the Revolution”, “Iron Every Victorious General”, “Outstanding Leader of the international Communist and revolutionary movement”. Since the 1970s, the title "father" has appeared to be combined with most of the above titles. On the whole, paternalist ideas about "the ruler - father of the nation", typical of the Confucian philosophical tradition, are the norm in North Korean propaganda. In propaganda stories one can find in North Korean magazines and school textbooks, Kim Il Song depicted as a fatherly figure, a wise and attentive parent caring for his people. In one story, he stops his limo to give a lift to an old woman, in another he personally oversees how a medical help is delivered to a young worker hurt in a factory incident, and in a third he inquires about the living conditions of a handicapped veteran. These stories about the Kims number in the many hundreds, and are constantly repeated in the media and textbooks, read aloud at meetings, or portrayed in paintings.  

Some of these stories are not simply Confucian in spirit, but are often remakes of popular stories from the Confucian mythology. Thus, for instance, all people in North Korea are continuously told how in 1945 the Great Leader was so busy with state affairs that he went twice by his home village without calling in because he hated to waste a minute of his precious time on anything other than caring about his people. Only on the third time did he agree, on the insistence of his comrades, to visit his native Mangyôngdae. Anybody acquainted with the East Asian tradition, would instantly recognise the scenario. The same story had been told of a famous general of the 7th century A.D. Kim Yu-sin, although the original source is most probably the story of the Chinese sage emperor Yu. 

When Kim Chông Il's ascent to supreme power had just begun, he was given a title which might at first seem a little strange - the "Centre of the Party" (Kor.: Tang chungang), although finally the title "Dear Ruler" (Kor. ch'in'ae'ha'nûn chidoja) has prevailed. Even if the names of Kim Il Song or Kim Chông Il are not mentioned specifically, every North Korean knows what titles go with whom and would never mix the "Great Leader" (Kim Il Song) with the "Dear Ruler" (Kim Chông Il) {*3}. Special words and even grammar forms have been established which may only be used in relation to these two personages. Their names along with any quotation from their writings are always printed in a special bold font. Starting form the primary school, North Koreans are taught how to make correct sentences in which the leader and his son are mentioned. According to this "court grammar", these two sacred names must not be put in the middle or, God forbid, at the end of a phrase, but always at the beginning. 

Not surprisingly, the currently recognised version of Kim Il Song's biography is one of the most important subjects taught in North Korean schools. Since around 1980, a biography of Kim Chông Il was also added to the curriculum. North Korean students, from kindergarten to college, have to memorise not just countless stories about real (or more often imagined) feats of Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il, but also their genealogy. Any article, any book, any university lecture has to begin with a quote from these leaders. Sometimes, when a suitable quote is difficult to find (indeed, the Great Leader did not say much on, say, invertebrate anatomy), an author has no choice but to use a quote which bears only a very distant relation to the content. For example, a collection of works on pharmacology begins with the following wise words of the Great Leader: "In biology the most important thing is to use existing resources effectively". An academic article on the structure of Korean vowels starts with the following revelation: "In linguistics, it is also necessary to establish a chuch'e and develop our language systematically so our people feel honoured and proud speaking it." {*4} 

Since the early 1970s, all North Koreans above the age of 16 have been obliged to wear badges with the portrait of Kim Il Song. One gets him/herself into trouble if one dares to appear in public without such a badge. The Kims' portraits are also erected above entrances and exits to railway stations, offices and factories. Often, these portraits are protected from the rain by a special peak, not unlike the peaks which are to be seen above icons in medieval monasteries. Since the late 1960s, the portraits of Kim Il Song adorn every room of every office, workshop, class, every private house, and even all metro or railway carriages. Since the early 1980s, in North Korean homes portraits of Kim Il Song were complemented with portraits of his son and heir Kim Chông Il. Initially the images of Kim Junior were rarely seen in public places, but since the late 1980s this has changed, and portraits of the two Kims become a common sight on North Korean streets. 

Naturally, in North Korea, these portraits have become the objects of virtual religious veneration. When the author studied at Kim Il Song university and lived in a dormitory for foreign students, there was a rule forbidding the hanging anything on a wall which sported a portrait of the Great Leader. The portraits are regularly cleaned with special brushes which are kept in special, carefully maintained, boxes. Damaging a portrait, even by accident, is a political crime. One of the most famous North Korean defectors of the 1970s, the top officer at the political police in the city of Kaesong, Kong T'ak-ho, fled to South Korea after he had accidentally damaged a portrait of Kim Il Song and was seen by his colleagues at the scene of the crime. Obviously, he knew only too well what would await such a criminal! {*5} Around the same time, An Kôn-ho, another secret police operative, was posthumously given the title of "Hero of the DPRK". An Kôn-ho worked under cover on a construction site, and during an incident he covered with his own body the sacral letters of Kim Il Song's name. {*6} 

The whole country is dotted with numerous monuments to Kim Il Song. In fact, Kim Il Song and the members of his family are the only people commemorated with the monuments in the DPRK. On 16 April, the North Korean leader's birthday (this day is the main national holiday in the DPRK), these monuments become a place of compulsory pilgrimage for entire neighbourhoods. On this day, all North Koreans are obliged to attend the Kim Il Song monument closest to their home. Under the watchful gaze of their supervisors from the "people's groups" they carefully execute several full bows and place flowers on the statue's pedestal. These same rites are also performed during certain other holidays. 

The greatest of all these statues is erected atop the Mansudae hill in Pyongyang, near the Museum of the Korean Revolution, to commemorate the Great Leader’s 60th birthday. The Museum itself had functioned as the major temple of the Kim Il Song cult until the Great Leader's death. This elephantine statue soars 22 meters high, and for a while in the 1970s it had been gilded in gold, hence it is known among the Russian community as the "Golden Calf". Eventually the real gold was replaced by golden paint, but the towering statue still dominates the central Pyongyang. However, the author has been told by a North Korean that this mammoth monument symbolises... the boundless modesty of the Great Leader, who allegedly rejected the original proposal to have a statue twice as high!  

The construction of this statue was a major project. Perhaps we could allow an official North Korean author describe this feast of boundless love at some length (English of the North Korean original is left unedited): 

"The news went across the country in a twinkling that the towering and immortal monument of loyalty would be built. The news stirred countless numbers of people like the spring thunder shaking all flowers in the fields to bud. Singing voices reverberated and people streamed towards Mansu[dae] Hill from everywhere. 

The citizens of Pyongyang got up before daybreak and went to the hill. On their way home from their work they hurried to the place toward dusks. Among them there were lively youngsters, heroes, generals, and famous writers and artists...Servicemen who came home on leave participated in the honourable work, and farmers on holiday came instead to the construction site. Local youth formed shock brigade and university students organised into battalions and companies arrived at the spot...Some women carried bricks with their bare hands and some young men carried timber on their shoulders without minding even to change their clothes... 

A huge, fine stone was needed as a pedestal to support the precious statue of the father leader. There were many stones there, but all of them were too small or of inferior quality. Senior officials, however, went out in search of a suitable one. They walked thousands of ri, examining many stones on noted mountains and by big rivers, and at last found a huge granite slab... It was flawless, white, hard and was certainly well over 300 tons in weight.

[....] 

A farmer's family in Anak country dug up a 300-years-old aromatic juniper they had raised in their garden for generations and brought it to Mansu[dae] Hill. People said an old juniper would die once transplanted. The farmer, however, would hear nothing of this kind. 

"The juniper is also a native of Korea. Why then should it not come to the leader's rays?" He asked.  

In this way tens of thousands of trees and flowering plants were transplanted on the hill. But there was not a single plant that died after the transplantation. They struck roots and throve on the hill although there were differences in climate and soil because they had been brought from places hundreds of thousands of ri away. The people's devotion seemed to cause even the insensible plants to flourish" {*7} 

A particular form of monuments to Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il are the massive stone obelisks erected at virtually any site which the Great Leader or his heir had graced with their presence. Since Kim Senior had ruled the country for half a century, and since the Kims kept going on endless inspection tours throughout the country, such monuments are abundant, and one can only guess how much money is spent on producing and maintaining them. Even the benches or stones on which Kim Il Song once rested during his tours around the country are carefully preserved. One nice autumn day in 1984, while walking in Moranbong park, the author noticed a small wooden bench. Looking very old-fashioned, it was strikingly different in style from the small stone benches which were to be found elsewhere in North Korean parks, and, besides, it had been freshly painted blue. And as if that were not enough, a chromium-covered chain had been placed around the bench and next to it there was a small obelisk with the following inscription: "On .... (some date in the mid-1950s -- I do not remember now -- A.L.) the Great Leader sat on this bench for a rest". Often, pompous odes are engraved on these commemorative obelisks. Sometimes one can read words uttered by Kim Il Song while gracing this particular spot with his presence. Thus, at an observation site in the picturesque Kûmgangsan mountains one will notice an impressive stone monument with the inscription: "Oh, what beautiful mountains! Kim Il Song". This is the remark uttered by the Great Leader when he climbed the mountain some time in the late 1940s. As a pious North Korean author has stated, in the Kûmgangsan mountains alone there are 22 such monuments {*8}. In North Korea, it is customary to record the weight of these massive stone-monolith constructions. Thus, an obelisk by the entrance to a huge underground shelter where during the war the Staff General of the North Korean Army had camped, weighs four hundreds tons. This, however, is very small in comparison to other grandiose constructions erected tin the honour of Kim Il Song in Pyongyang: apart from the above-mentioned 22-meter statue, there is also a 170-meters Monument to the chuch'e ideas {*9} and the grandiose Arc of Triumph. A South Korean publication states that in the DPRK there are 35 thousand various monuments to Kim Il Song. This could be a slight exaggeration, but the reality certainly would appear to lend some credence to this figure {*10}. 

The DPRK’s official ideology is based on the so-called "chuch'e ideas". In the late 1950s, these ideas started being developed as a counterweight to the "imported" Marxism as Kim Il Song was striving to cast aside the excessive Soviet influence. A detailed analysis of this rather incoherent political and philosophical doctrine lays well outside the limits of this chapter, yet it is important to note that North Koreans themselves perceive the chuch'e ideas simply as a collection of thoughts and remarks by Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il. Their writings are extensively published, constantly commented upon and faithfully studied by the whole population during compulsory meetings. According to a good old Confucian tradition, the crude memorising of long and boring texts is the main form of such study. The author has witnessed how students at Kim Il Song University spend about a third of their time reading and memorising the works of Kim Senior and Kim Junior. In most offices and factories, schools and army units, there are special "rooms for studying the Leader's Ideas" (an obvious influence of the Soviet "Lenin rooms" as they had originally existed in the 1930s). Quotation books are also widely used, a tradition probably imported from China during the period of the "cultural revolution". However, if in Mao's China there was one "small red book" common to all, in North Korea many such books have been compiled (always small though not necessarily red) for various groups of the population. The author has seen two such quotation books, both of Kim Chông Il's quotations: one was for young workers and another for university students. The latter book was marked "for internal use only", and it appeared as if some quotation books are not for public use. Periodically, students have to pass exams to prove their knowledge of the quotation books' content. 

Studying the biography of Kim Il Song starts in the kindergarten. On several occasions the author attended one or other of the showcase kindergartens and was able to see how the process of such indoctrination appears in practice. In a North Korean kindergarten (at least, in two kindergartens which the author saw), there was a special room for such studies, with a large model of Man'gyôngdae, the home village of Kim Il Song, placed in the centre and pictures depicting the childhood of the Kims hanging on the walls. Before the lesson started, all the children along with their teacher made three full bows to Kim Il Song's portrait chanting the words: "Thank you, Marshall-Father!" After this ritual, the lesson started. One after another, children were called by the teacher to the model. In thin childish voices, but doing their best to imitate a serious "adult" intonation, they would recite one of the various episodes of the Great Leader's life: "Here the Father-Marshall played war games preparing himself for combat against the Japanese imperialists", or "Here the Father-Marshall together with Teacher Kim Hyông-chik (Kim Il Song's father - A.L.), trained himself by playing sports". The poor children attempt to speak with the same pathos they learned from the ubiquitous radio broadcasts, tried to make the appropriate threatening or admiring gestures they had seen on TV, but with rather comic result: they would make tongue-slips while their gestures reminded one of the movements of mechanical toys. However, the indoctrination does not stop on these political lessons. The children are constantly reminded that only because of Kim Senior and Kim Junior can they enjoy their "happy childhood". Even the food they eat is due to the Great Leader's benevolence, so after every meal, all children have to thank Kim Il Song for his care for them (they must chant: "Great Leader, thank you very much, we ate well"). 

As children attend primary school, they begin to study the "history of the Great Leader" again, and in secondary school there is another round, followed by a final dose of the "revolutionary history of the Great Leader" which is studied for a few semesters at all tertiary institution. Since the 1980s, the "revolutionary history of the Great Leader" has been supplemented with the "revolutionary history of the Dear Ruler" (Kim Chông Il). 

The whole content of school education serves, above all, propaganda purposes. Even such seemingly apolitical subjects as mathematics are not exempt. Take, for example, a quiz from a North Korean math textbook: "3 soldiers from the Korean People's Army killed 30 American soldiers. How many American soldiers were killed by each of them, if they all killed an equal number of enemy soldiers?" Then a child would be offered more food for thought: "The Great Leader-Father Kim Il Song was, as a child, once given 9 apples. He gave 3 to his grand-father, 2 - to his grand-mother, 1 - to his father and 1 - to his mother. How many apples did he give away and how many did he keep for himself?" {*11} 

It should be noted that the works by Marx, Engels, and Lenin are not only excluded from the standard curriculum, but are generally forbidden for lay readers. Almost all the classical works of Marxism-Leninism, as well as foreign works on the Marxist (that is, other than the chuch'e) philosophy are kept in special depositories, along with other kinds of subversive literature. Such works are accessible only to specialists with special permits. For general use, there is a small collection of excerpts from the works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin rather like a book of quotations. Obviously, the quotes selected do not challenge the ideas of chuch'e and the current "party line". Given the role played by Marx's original works in the formation of the Soviet dissident movement in the 1960s, a decision by the North Korean authorities to consider Karl Marx a counter-revolutionary author of sorts, would seem prudent (from their point of view, of course). 

It is also interesting how propaganda has supported the ascent of Kim Chông Il, who was officially declared heir designate in 1980. This process was made to look spontaneous as if it was instigated from below, almost against the wishes of Kim Chông Il himself. Not surprisingly, until the late 1980s, portraits of Kim Junior were to be hung only in private apartments, while his works and his "revolutionary history" had been studied in colleges "unofficially" as if it were the wish of students who organised classes in their free time. Needless to say, the grades in these 'unofficial subjects' were among the most important to a student's future career! 

In the early 1980s, the North Korean propaganda which never recognised the fact that Kim Il Song ever served in the Soviet Army, began to insist that between 1941 and 1945 Kim Il Song was commanding the guerrilla detachments from a secrete guerrilla camp on the Paektusan mountain, near the Chinese border. There, it is said, Kim Chông Il was born. The camp was immediately "restored" (that is, built), and opened for compulsory pilgrimage. The underlying motivation is clear: the leader of a nationalist regime could not have been born on foreign soil. However, very recently this claim was reversed or, rather, downplayed: the 8th volume of Kim Il Song memoirs, published posthumously in 1998, to everybody surprise, included a direct testimony of nobody less but the Great Leader himself. Kim mentioned that he spent the early 1940s in the Soviet Union, near Khabarovsk. The reasons for such a sudden concession to the truth are unclear, and it remains to be seen how this revelation will be reconciled with previous statements.  

Strange and bizarre as it might seem, North Korean propaganda even insists that Kim Chông Il somehow managed to participate in the struggle against the Japanese. It should not be forgotten that he was born in 1942, so by the end of the war, he was... three years old. I remember a fairly typical piece of official art, a huge oil painting which could be seen in the Railways Museum in the mid-1980s. The picture depicted Kim Chông-suk, the wife of Kim Il Song, who, surrounded by other guerrillas, holds the future "Dear Ruler" in her left arm while shooting several evil-looking Japanese soldiers with a pistol in her right hand. For a hopelessly impious visitor (such as myself) it almost appeared that the heroine was holding her son as if she intended to use him as a shield against the Japanese bullets. A guide explained that the picture depicted the "glorious childhood of the Dear Ruler Comrade Kim Chông Il". 

The propaganda of special services rendered by Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il to the country is closely connected to the propaganda on the economic and political achievements of the DPRK: the North Korean press tirelessly repeats that the country’s achievements are immense, and all that was achieved was due to the wise leadership of the Great Leader and his heir. According to one of numerous theoretical articles on this subject, "the main thing is to follow unconditionally, under all circumstances, the instructions of the Leader, fully understanding that he is the greatest man who plays a decisive role in directing the masses and the revolution" {*12}. North Koreans are continuously told that the DPRK, a "country of exemplary socialism", a "country of chuch'e and Ch'ônlima", is one of the most developed and richest countries in the modern world and the happy and prosperous life of its citizens evokes envy everywhere, and, above all, in 'poverty-stricken' South Korea! Even money bills became the instrument of such propaganda. On a 1 won bank note, one can see the popular slogan: "Don't envy anybody in the world!" (Kor. Sesang-e purôm opsôra!). The newspapers report on the alleged achievements of North Korean indigenous science and technology, while never mentioning any foreign aid to the DPRK.  

The self image of North Korea as a prosperous, developed, rich country is, obviously, highly unrealistic, and can be made plausible only by the total isolation of the country from the outside world. Since the North Korean populace is unaware of the living standards in other lands, the only starting point most North Koreans can use for comparisons is the colonial period, when life was very harsh indeed. The myth of prosperity has very deep roots, and after 1995, when a severe food crisis struck North Korea, this myth became a major obstacle preventing the authorities from appealing openly to the international community for assistance (or, at least, made such an appeal politically much more difficult). The food crisis has been explained away as a result of exceptionally bad luck, of flooding which occurs "only once a century". Nevertheless, this explanation failed to ring true, and it appears that the myth of prosperity has now been somewhat shaken in North Korea, especially since the government had to tolerate a great deal of illegal cross-border private trade with neighbouring China. The merchants bring not only goods but also information about relative prosperity across the border and, occasionally, even some vague rumours about wealth of South Korea. 

Nationalist and chauvinist motives have been widely used in propaganda since the mid-1950s, when the partial break with the USSR made nationalism an increasingly important legitimising tool for the regime. The significance of nationalism has only risen since the collapse of the international socialist camp in 1989-1991. The events of the distant past are reinterpreted for propaganda purposes, feats of ancient generals and kings are narrated in the same idiom as newspaper articles. In North Korean textbooks, Korea always wages only defensive wars and, needless to say, it always defends itself successfully, while an occasional defeat is always the responsibility of corrupt and inept ‘feudal rulers’. The myth of Korean military valour is upheld, even against hard historic facts when necessary. The official North Korean history, for example, denies that Korea was ever controlled by the Mongol Empire! If Korean armies act abroad it is either a "struggle for the return of the lost Korean lands" or "strikes on the bases of the aggressors". Particular attention is paid to the kingdom of Koguryô which existed on the northern part of the Korean peninsula during the first centuries A.D. Of the few books on history to be published in North Korea, most deal with Koguryô and glorify its (chiefly military) virtues. This strange admiration for an ancient kingdom is understandable: the capital of Koguryô was located in modern Pyongyang, or, at least, not far away from Pyongyang. The idea that "Pyongyang is the traditional centre of the country" is propagated in all textbooks on history while Seoul is mentioned only in passing. 

Nationalist propaganda was greatly intensified in the early 1990s, when the claims to be the only legitimate heir to the great and unique tradition became a much more important part of the regime's official ideology (the Leninist-Stalinist rhetoric of class struggle was to a large extent rendered unusable by the collapse of Communism). All kinds of foreign influences are vigorously rejected. Starting from the early 1990s the North Korean official "historians" began to insist that Korea was among the few places on earth from whence the humankind originated. The Koreans, as the official theory goes, are not related to any other nation, they have not come from anywhere, but have uniquely ancient roots, and their ancestors have always lived on the Korean Peninsula. In the early 1990s North Korean archaeologists claimed they had found remnants of King Tangun, the legendary founder of the Choson kingdom, son of a god and a female bear-turned-woman (sadly, the skeleton they found looked perfectly human!). Not surprisingly, his tomb was "discovered" nowhere, but in Pyongyang, adding some credence to the idea that Pyongyang had always been the capital of the country. The skeleton was placed in a new tomb, hastily erected in the pseudotraditional “Old Korean” style.  

North Korean newspapers and books often cite Kim Il Song's maxim on the necessity to study first of all national history and culture. In the period between the early 1960s and the early 1980s, few if any translations of foreign fiction were published. During the last two decades, some translations of western literature began to reappear in the book shops (and have been quickly sold-out), but on the whole, North Koreans know almost nothing of the foreign history and culture. An improvised quiz which the author conducted in the students dorm revealed that in 1985 about three-fourths of the Korean students who lived with the foreign students had never heard about the Great French revolution and could not name a single western writer. And since they were selected to live in the same dorm as foreigners (and inform on them), they were mostly among the best students of the nation's best school! 

Another important propaganda theme is the "unification of Korea". In the press and radio, the poverty and suffering of the South Koreans is always juxtaposed with the prosperous and happy life of their Northern cousins. South Korea is depicted as a poor and dependent country, while its government is presented as a clique of maniacs possessed by all possible vices. According to North Korean newspapers, South Koreans search for food in rubbish bins, wear ragged clothes, suffer unbelievable tortures at the hands of police while all the time envying their lucky North Koreans brethren. The juxtaposition of the "hell" of the South to the "paradise" of the North is a constant motif of North Korean propaganda. Not surprisingly, one of the books about defectors from the South published in Pyongyang is called "From Hell to Paradise". 

Films often depict “the horrible life of the South Korean people, suffering under the oppression of the American imperialists and their puppets”. A typical example is The Fate of Kûm-Hûi and Ûn-hûi (Kûm-Hû-i-wa Ûn-hûi unmyông). This movie was shot in the 1970s and remains popular to this day. Its story is simple and clear. In 1945, the year of Liberation, twin girls were born. Soon, they lost all their relatives and were divided by circumstances: one eventually became a famous folk singer in the North, while the other found herself in the South. The poor Southern sibling starved, wore rags, sang jazz in a dingy restaurant (jazz is, of course, a symbol of lechery and decadence), barely escaped from a brothel and, finally, became handicapped when hit by a US military jeep (what else!). Meanwhile, her sister happily lives in the North, sings and dances in an assemble of "music of the chuch'e type" (a combination of traditional Korean music and a Soviet type of popular music which was the rage if the as in the 1930s and 1940s in the period of Dunaevskii), lives in a beautiful flat and wears elegant dresses. The film is completed by a scene in which the heroine weeps from joy while standing by the pedestal of the huge monument to Kim Il Song on Mansudae hill.  

Even the seemingly apolitical art of animated cartoons is not left untouched. A popular series, shot in the early 1980s, depict the struggle between the good "forest people" and evil wolves. The small Hedgehogs are brave scouts for the army of the "forest people". These cute-looking animals are trained in taekwondo and can skilfully wield any type of weapon. They manage to get into the enemy's staff and steal their plan for a future attack. The army of the "forest people" defeats the cunning enemy. To make the message even clearer, the army of the "forest people" is clothed in a uniform similar to that worn by North Korean soldiers and address each other as "comrade", while the cunning wolves sport South Korean style uniforms and call their officers "Your Excellency". In addition to animated cartoons, there are also many children’s books with pictures in the same spirit of militarism. 

Particular attention is also paid to another North Korean slogan - "Use our own resources!" (Kor. charyôk kaengsaeng). This slogan which reached Korea from China in the early 1960s still plays an important role today being in fact the main principle of the North Korean economic theory. Interestingly enough, the Chinese roots of this slogan (Chin. zi li geng sheng), borrowed character for character, is not mentioned at all and the majority of North Koreans do not even suspect its foreign origin. The "revolutionary spirit of using our own resources" has simply become commonplace in virtually any material on economic topics, either on radio, on TV or in the press. The activities of those enterprises which are particularly successful (or claimed to be particularly successful) in realising this slogan are widely propagated. Thus, several years ago, the North Korean press reported that the workers of a Pyongyang grain elevator made a diesel locomotive themselves. References to examples of the glorious past are often made, first of all - references to the period of the anti-Japanese guerrilla struggle which is a constant theme in the propaganda. The main message is simple: the guerrilla movement appeared and existed (and even won - according to the official version) only because Kim Il Song led it, and all its participants were his staunch followers who implemented the slogan of "using own resources". Thus, for instance, the newspaper Nodong sinmun tells how guerrillas in a "revolutionary spirit of using own resources" repaired their weapons welding steel parts over a bonfire (!). Obviously, the economic co-operation of the DPRK with other countries is not mentioned. The participation of foreign (chiefly Soviet, occasionally Chinese and Western) specialists in various projects is kept secret. Exceptions were not made even for the “friendliest” states. In a spirit of xenophobia, since the 1960s, North Koreans often take all foreign labels off any imported equipment. This practice has often been perceived as an embarrassment by the suppliers, but it has been a standard pattern for decades. Such was the fate of Bulgarian-made computers, Chinese-made subway carriages and Soviet-made power generators (to cite only examples of which the author is personally aware). 

 

Leonid Petrov's KOREA VISION Online

 

The propaganda messages are delivered to the populace mostly through mass media - radio, press, and TV, though in the DPRK a special role is also played by indoctrination sessions at the workplace. 

The main newspaper in the DPRK is Nodong sinmun, the organ of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party. Nodong sinmun (the Korean Pravda) holds a very special place in the North Korean mass media. In terms of layout, it continues to follow the Soviet pattern of the immediate post-war years, and similarities (not in content, but in form) between the Pravda of the 1940s and the Nodong sinmun of the 1980s are striking indeed. The first two pages of Nodong sinmun usually contain addresses to Kim Il Song from abroad, official telegrams and statements, articles about economic achievements of the country and chuch'e theory. Here one can also read about visits by foreign delegations and eulogies on the greatness of Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il. The third page contains material of a mainly economic character, while the fourth is filled with short official reports and essays on various topics. The last pages form a block of international news. Virtually all these articles report either about the economic achievements of developing countries, or criticise US foreign policy. Another very “popular” topic is a worldwide popularity of the chuch’e ideas. The North Korean media reports at great length about all publications of Kim Il Song or Kim Chông Il’s works overseas, even though most of these publications are sponsored by the DPRK local missions. A special section, usually the fifth page, is devoted to South Korea. The intonation of the newspaper is dictated by its propaganda purposes: praising Kim Il Song, hysterical criticism of the USA and South Korea, boasting of the purported economic achievements of the DPRK (in most cases non-existent), and propagating the ideas of chuch'e and insisting on their immense popularity throughout the world. 

It has to be said that in North Korea there exist other sources of information which are not accessible to ordinary people, but only to officials. For the cadres (Kor.: kanbu) a special newspaper is published which is supposed to give much more information on the outside world than Nodong sinmun. However, when the author eventually managed to get hold of a few copies of this classified publication, he was somewhat disappointed: it was not much different from “open” North Korean newspapers and in comparison the Soviet Pravda of Brezhnev’s times could be considered an example of tough and truthful journalism. Thus, news on South Korea might be limited to a report that the movement of buses on one of the highways disturbs the local peasants evoking protests. Perhaps, the potentially subversive nature of this news lay in the fact that there are indeed highways and buses in South Korea. It appears as if even the majority of North Korean officials are denied the opportunity of receiving a truthful information about the outside world. 

The radio programming in North Korea appears very exotic to a foreign visitor. Music alternates with short propaganda information blocks. Every hour begins with the news more or less identical to that published by Nodong sinmun. Then there is several minutes of marches or one or two songs about Kim Il Song, Kim Chông Il, or the party. Songs are followed by a short 5-10 minute talk -- either a commentary on the internal situation, or on South Korea, or on the philosophy of chuch'e. Often, articles from Nodong sinmun are also broadcast on radio. Then there are again military marches and songs followed by another short news program. The intonation of announcers is always exaggerated and even hysterical, reading the news as if they were calling upon soldiers to attack an enemy. 

The majority of North Koreans listen to the radio constantly. Indeed, they have no choice. Radio receivers are in every home, metro carriages, factories, and sometimes, even on the fields during agricultural work, and in most public places they remain constantly turned on. Thus, most of the day North Koreans imbibe the same background consisting of military marches and political slogans literally shouted down the air waves by the announcers. 

On the whole, North Korean propaganda aims at creating a constant and intense ideological environment in which the populace has to live. Not only is the radio ubiquitous but so is the visual propaganda - from simple red flags to huge concrete obelisks to special permanent billboard-type structures. Such structures, about three metres high, are to be found virtually at every intersection in major cities. They bear frescoes which depict either scenes from the lives of Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il or merely portraits of the Leaders themselves, usually surrounded by admiring crowds.  

Even the picturesque Korean mountains are not spared, but are used as propaganda media. Slogans are carved out in huge letters in the most beautiful parts of the Korean mountains. There is perhaps no peak left in the Kûmgangsan and Myohyangsan gorges which does not sport such a stimulating inscription as "Long live the Great Leader Marshall Kim Il Song!" or "Let's [transform] ideology, technology and culture according to chuch'e!". These inscriptions are first carved out on the rocks by teams of stonemasons and then painted red. These slogans have become part of the beautiful poetic landscapes, which used to inspire the paintings of traditional Korean artists. All this activity began after Kim Il Song himself once remarked: "It would be nice to carve out some good inscriptions on the rocks for future generations!" This is also in line with East Asian traditions, since carving out poetry (or just travellers’ names) on a suitable rock has long been the norm for rich travellers who could afford to pay the stone masons for the task. However, these old inscriptions were quite small, and blended with the environment, especially since they were essentially unofficial in nature. They are a far cry from Kim Il Song's modern propaganda art. 

A campaign for carving rocks began in full in the 1970s. One North Korean historian describes it in the following terms (apologies for the long quotation, but it affords a glimpse into modern North Korean writings): 

"Having wholeheartedly perceived the wise instructions of the Great Leader and the Dear Ruler, party members and all working people raised to struggle to carve out inscriptions which would last for ten thousand generations. To this end, a “shock unit” (a militarised building unit - A.L.) was formed from Communist youth league members and other young people who were helped by voluntary groups of workers. The members of the rapid combat detachment and helpers from the local population, inspired by a feeling of fiery devotion to the Great Leader, by February 1982 had created in Kûmgangsan 61 carvings (3690 characters). In their scale and their deep ideological content they are not paralleled anywhere in the world (indeed -- A.L.). Thus, the inscription "chuch'e" on the Ch'on'yôn rocks is 27 meters high, 8 meters wide, while its characters are 1,2 meters deep". {*13}  

Verbal propaganda is also widely used adding to the influence of broadcasting. In cities, will often encounter special vans with a loud-speaker and sometimes a small rostrum at the back carrying an announcer. Usually, such propaganda vans are deployed at large construction sites. Speakers transmit loud music (a normal mix of military marches and songs about the Kims) from time to time interrupted by slogans shouted by a girl sitting in the car or standing on the rostrum. Such accompaniment is expected to have a good ideological impact on the workers and improve their productivity. The image of a girl with a huge loud-speaker under her armpit has become the symbol for propaganda activities inspiring the masses to feats of labour. This image is very popular in modern North Korean arts, be it literature, painting or cinematography. 

One of the most distinctive features of the North Korean ideological system is a particularly widely use of meetings or, rather, ideological indoctrination sessions. Kim Il Song is often cited as saying that every Korean has to work eight hours, study eight hours, and rest eight hours. It should be noted, however, that under "studying" mostly "political studying" is meant, that is, studying the works of Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il. Obviously, the authorities' dream that every Korean would spend eight hours a day reading the sacred texts has remained just such. Nevertheless, the achievements of the North Korean authorities in this respect are very significant. There is hardly another country in the world where every citizen has to spend on average about two hours daily in compulsory meetings. This used to be the norm in North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, but more recently there has been a decline in the frequency and length of these meetings. The meetings are as much a part of the daily routine as, say, lunch or sleep. A working day starts and finishes with such meetings though the time spent on them is, of course, not included in one’s working hours. In addition, Saturday afternoons are exclusively devoted to such meetings. Even vacationers are not free of this compulsory ideological education. While in resorts, North Koreans are still obliged to attend meetings at the venue, spending there on average a couple hours per day.  

The North Korean political and propaganda practice has produced various forms of such meetings, too numerous to be listed. There follow the "genres" which used to be most popular in the late 1980s: 

1. "Meetings on reading newspapers" starts the working day for many, if not most North Koreans. For half an hour, especially appointed people read out Nodong Sinmun or sometimes Memoirs of the Anti-Japanese Guerrillas.  

2. "Meetings on studying from the experience of the Great Leader and the Dear Ruler" are dedicated to stories about Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il which (mostly from the series Stories about the Love for the People) are also read out aloud and, sometimes, discussed. These stories which we have briefly mentioned above, illustrate how humane, wise and devoted to their subjects both leaders are.  

3. "Meetings on analysing slogans" do not need much explanation, their name is self-explanatory. 

4. "Meetings of revenge" must nourish the hatred for the enemy. During these sessions, stories about the "bloody atrocities of the eternal enemies of the Korean people - American imperialism, Japanese colonialism and their South Korean puppets" are read and discussed. By the way, among the major villains are Christian missionaries who in these stories are depicted branding Korean children with hot iron, taking their blood to sell overseas and, definitely, spying for their cunning masters in Washington. 

5. "Meetings on the ideological struggle" were, perhaps, initially borrowed from Mao's China. At these meetings, people who have committed "ideological mistakes" or "concessions to revisionism" are criticised. The “mistakes” may include such crimes as long hair and excessive devotion to passion. Everybody has to accuse and denounce the culprit who must also finally deliver a speech of repentance. Nowadays, such meetings normally proceeds relatively peacefully but in the 1960s some victims were routinely beaten up by the “masses”. 

6. "Meetings on drawing the results of life" finish the working week. Usually they take place on Saturdays, once or twice a month. These are devoted to self-criticism. All those present are required to confess in turn their sins and misdemeanours over the previous weeks and complete their speeches with an obligatory oath of repentance. These public political confession sessions are a very important part of the daily life of North Korea. After everybody has completed their repentance speeches with the obligatory quotes from Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il, they turn to a bout of the so-called "mutual criticism", meaning that each participant must denounce one or another actions of their colleagues. While such behaviour might strike the reader as strange, nevertheless the system has proved to be a remarkably efficient means of cohesion.  

7. "Meetings on learning songs" is necessary since a new song in North Korea is a rare event, and each new lyric and tune must be officially approved. Hence, each new work is supposedly a "masterpiece of chuch'e music" and thus must be learned by the whole population. Needless to say, Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il are mentioned in the text of most songs. 

Peculiar to North Korea is the system of "gifts from the Great Leader". From time to time, workers, engineers or, at times, even the entire staff of factories, schools or military units can be issued with valuable and normally unavailable items. It is explained that the "Great Leader" has taken a personal interest in them. These gifts may vary although they comprise usually either delicacies which cannot be bought in shops, such as sugar, meat, fresh fruits (even fruits as exotic as oranges!), or expensive items, such as watches, TV sets or tape recorders. Obviously, everybody is overjoyed to receive such things free of charge and, even more importantly, from the "Great Leader" himself. If "the presents of the Great Leader" are given to the whole work unit, they normally comprise furniture, textbooks or equipment (especially medical equipment). Above each such item there is fixed a small plate explaining that it is a "gift from the Great Leader". 

North Korean museums also serve primarily the same propaganda purposes. Basically, in North Korea there are two types of museums: museums in normal western sense of the word and the so-called 'museums of merit' (Kor.: sajôkkwan). There is just half a dozen of the former in Pyongyang and a huge number of the latter in the capital and elsewhere throughout the country. The author has visited three such museums - a university, a railway, and a subway affiliated museums, as well as two local 'museums of merit' in Wonsan and Ch'ônsanli. The full name of the latter institutions is a "Museum of the revolutionary merit of the Great Leader and Dear Ruler". In fact, they are simply museums to the glory of Kim Il Song and Kim Chông Il but normally with some special touch. These establishments use the backdrop of university, railway, subway, or local area, to illustrate directly the acts or thoughts of the Great Leader and Dear Ruler. Thus, in the subway museum, the exposition in the first few halls covers the childhood of Kim Il Song, followed by his activities in Manchuria, the Korean war and only finally do materials related to the metro itself begin to appear. There are photographs of the underground construction sites and of the workers as well as various kinds of printed materials issued during the subway construction. However, the main exhibits comprise such things as a pen with which Kim Il Song signed the decree for the start of construction, a chair on which Kim Il Song sat while inspecting the construction, a microphone into which Kim Il Song spoke a few words about the subway or even a special vehicle in which Kim Il Song once travelled between two underground stations. The walls are decorated with photos and pictures on the subject of "Kim Il Song and the workers of the subway". A huge diorama with numerous sound and visual effects at which Koreans are very accomplished is devoted to the same theme: an inspection of the underground construction site by Kim Senior himself. 

All "museums of merit" are formed on the same principle. After Kim Chông Il was officially declared heir to his father in 1980, special departments were added to the Museums to relate the heroic deeds of Kim Junior. The author was particularly impressed by the hall "Kim Chông Il at a Military Camp" in the Kim Il Song University "Museum of merit". Among other exhibits, there were a rifle (allegedly Kim's), his shovel and even a ladle which Kim Chông Il used while working a shift in the kitchen. Indeed, a huge picture is devoted to this historical event of great significance - Kim Chông Il working a shift in the kitchen. The picture depicts the young Kim Chông Il, ladle in hand, instructing his attentive fellow-students. In the late 1980s, a place where Kim Junior once spent a few weeks at a military camp was transformed into a memorial complex. Even a stone on which Kim Chông Il rested after a tiring run is especially fenced and carefully protected. 

One of the main propaganda centres in the country is the "Exhibition of Friendship Between the Peoples" situated in the beautiful Myohyangsan mountains. This grandiose construction of 23 thousand square metres, "national in form and socialist in content", is an exhibition of gifts to Kim Il Song. It was established under a clear Soviet influence: an exhibition of gifts to Stalin had held once an important significance in the USSR. This exhibition is much talked about and visiting it is normal part of program for foreigners visiting North Korea. 

 

 

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One of the most important questions about any propaganda system is its efficiency. How effective is the North Korean propaganda? Obviously, it is difficult to give a definite answer since no sociological field research can be undertaken in the country. Nevertheless, the author would venture to suggest some conclusions based on his personal experience in the country and with North Koreans generally. 

Firstly, on the whole, the North Korean propaganda system seems fairly effective, mainly because of the absence of alternative sources of information. The majority of people in the DPRK believe (or, at least, had believed until the food crisis of 1995) that the living standards in their country are quite high. They obviously respect Kim Il Song, although not his son who is much less popular among the population. As to nationalist, not to say chauvinist beliefs, they are typical to most Koreans, both in the North and the South. 

Secondly, it seems that during the late 1980s and 1990s, the efficiency of the North Korean propaganda machine has been waning. The reason being a certain weakening of the country's isolation tolerated by the leadership in the hope of solving their economic problems. This has lead to spread of scepticism towards the official doctrines, especially among the elitist youth and students. 

Thirdly, achievements of North Korean propaganda system have been based not so much on any efficient program of propaganda as on a system of total control and isolation from the outside world. This means that even a slight detour from the strict isolationism and minimal contact with the outside world would lead to a rapid collapse of the official world view (though some elements of this world view may and indeed will most probably would last for a very long time). In other words, the position of the official world view in North Korean society does not seem particularly strong. 

Footnotes: 

1. These groups consist of a few dozens of neighbouring families. Each is headed by an official who has to check upon the behaviour of all persons under his control as he is personally responsible for their political loyalty. 

2. Ko Yông-hwan, a North Korean diplomat who later defected to the South recalls how in August 1967, during a campaign against foreign influences, all students of a Pyongyang "Revolutionary college of foreign languages" where he studied at the time, were ordered to give away all foreign books in their possession, including dictionaries. These books were later burned as "bourgeois and revisionist" literature. See: Ko Yông-hwan. P'yôngyang-ûi 25 sigan. Seoul: Koryôwôn, 1992. P.293-294. 

3. In 1998, that is four years after the death of his father, he started also being referred to as the "Great Leader" - a title previously applied only to Kim Il Song. The earlier title of Kim Junior (ch'in'ae'hanûn chidoja) is normally translated into English as "Dear Leader", but in this book we suggest "Ruler" instead, to show that the Korean original is different from the "suryông" reserved for Kim Senior.  

4. Chosôn p'oja sikmul. Pyongyang: Kwahak paekkwa sajôn ch'ulp'ansa, 1990. P.1. Kim Paek-yôn. “Chosônô moûm ch'yegye munje.” In: Ôn'ô hak nonmun chip. Pyongyang: Kwahak paekkwa sajôn ch'ulp'ansa, 1987. P.1. 

5. Kon T'ak-ho. Kukka chongch'i powiguk neamak. Seoul, 1976. 

6. Kim Chông-yôn. P’yôngyang yôja. Vol.2. Seoul: Koryô sôjôk, 1995. Pp.49-50. 

7. Benevolent Sun. Vol.3. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1986. P.216-217, 219. 

8. Kûmgangsan-ûi ryôksa-wa munhwa. Pyôngyang: Kwahak paekkwa sajôn ch'ulp'ansa, 1984. P.47. 

9. This monument is formed from 25550 stones, symbolising the number of days lived by Kim Il Song up to the moment of the monument's unveiling (it was officially unveiled on the occasion of his 70th birthday). (See: Korean Review. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1987, p.197). 

10. Pukhan-ûi chongch'i. Seoul: Ûryu munhwa sa, 1990. P.288 

11. Puknam-ûi saenghwal'sang. Seoul: Pakyông sa, 1986. P.83. In a quiz with apples, a Confucian hierarchical pattern is obvious (an older person is superior to a younger one, a man is superior to a woman). 

12. Yi Dong-ch'un. “Chuch'ehyông-ûi kongsangjuûi-ûi hyôngmyôngjôk suryônggwan.” In: Kûnloja, 1987, #8. 

13. Kûmgangsan-û ryôksa-wa munhwa... P.118. 

 

Leonid Petrov's KOREA VISION Online


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