Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ask a Korean! News: Kim Jong-Un Propaganda Begins

North Korea is gearing up to deify the new successor Kim Jong-Un, which is being met with cynicism. Below is the translation.

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As the North Korean regime embarked on a massive project to deify Kim Jong-Un, it is being met by jeers and ridicule from the people as it relies on absurd propaganda defying common sense. As the regime strains to package a 27-year-old man without any achievement as a "great leader," the tactic is backfiring.

On the 11th of this month, Open North Korea Radio, a radio station broadcasting toward North Korea, made public the material for lectures held late last year against Labor Party officials and members. The propaganda material, titled "Material on the Greatness of Young General Comrade Kim Jong-Un", claimed that "Comrade Young General was an expert marksman since the age of three, and this year hit a row of light bulbs and bottles 100 meters away with a semiautomatic rifle, firing at three shots per second." It also claimed that Kim fired 20 shots at a target and hit all of them within the 10-point circle. In addition, it claimed that Kim "figured out all renowned generals through the East and the West and throughout history by his teens, is proficient in all areas of military affairs including the army, navy and the air force, and only took a few days to complete the 'automatic ceremonial cannon firing program,' which not even engineers could not accomplish."

Reportedly, this material also contains claims that Kim Jong-Un is not only proficient in politics, economics, culture, history and military affairs, but also a genius who completely acquired four languages -- English, German, French and Italian -- in his two years of study abroad, and that he is taking time out to study and master up to seven languages. It also propagandized that Kim amazed those around him by composing a difficult Chinese poem with a calligraphy brush at age three, and that North Korea developed nuclear weapon because Kim, through his study abroad, determined that "Against those with nuclear weapon, we must rise with nuclear weapon also."

The material directed toward farmers reportedly contains claims that Kim Jong-Un surprised the researchers of Sariwon Grain Cooperative Farm on a visit in 2008 when he spontaneously invented a microbial fertilizer that improves acidic soil, and that this farm produced 15 tons of rice per jeongbo [TK: unit of area, equivalent to 9917 m²) the next year. Last year, South Korea produced 5.2 tons of rice per jeongbo.

North Korean informants said after hearing the lecture, the people sneered, "Now there is no more food problem since all the rain and snow will turn into rice," "We are already worried about how to handle the excess food," "[Kim Jong-Un, the child of heaven] decided that this year's crop will be destroyed by flood," etc.

The deification of Kim Jong-Un is far more absurd than the deification of Kim Il-Sung or Kim Jong-Il. Kim Il-Sung's deification propaganda (also well-known in South Korea) about how he "made grenades with pine cones and crossed rivers on floating leaves" is on a children's book. Neither did Kim Jong-Il's deification, at least when aimed toward adults, contain such propaganda as absurd as "expert marksman at age 3." One defector noted, "It looks like the propaganda is getting worse as the officers of the propaganda bureaus have changed into the generation that grew up with the deification education."

김일성 뺨치는 김정은 우상화… 北주민 “쌀 넘치겠네” 비아냥 [Dong-A Ilbo]

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. I used it in this post talking (again) about how the ascension of Kim Jong-un is by no means the done deal it's being made out to be in the Western media circle jerk.

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  2. Interesting article. However, isn't his name supposed to be Kim Jeong-eun (김정은) rather than Kim Jong-un (김종운)?

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  3. If you adhered to Revised Romanization rules, that would be correct. But "Kim Jong-Un" is the way NK released it to the world.

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  4. A fellow language learner! How interesting. Maybe he didn't follow the grammar and vocabulary cramming path. You know, unlike most other Koreans.

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  5. Nice job translating. Frankly, the fact that anyone believes such propaganda confuses me. Then again, there's enough going on in South Korea that defies logical belief as well...

    @kushibo:If there were someone else waiting in the wings, wouldn't NK be making a move to put that person in the hot seat, so to speak?

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  6. Chris in South Korea wrote:
    @kushibo:If there were someone else waiting in the wings, wouldn't NK be making a move to put that person in the hot seat, so to speak?

    Chris, there is uniform, actin in unison "North Korea," even at the ruling level. There is no one else waiting in the wings as far as Kim Jong-il's chosen successor, because he has already chosen apparently. But this does not mean that the rest of the Pyongyang elite has accepted Dynastic Transfer 2.0 as a done deal.

    I think Barbara Demick put it best:

    And something that I have been hearing in China -- I'm based in Beijing -- is that, even in North Korea, there are some rules for legitimacy. Within the party, one needs to establish credibility and presence. So, I wouldn't say he's the successor. I would say he's daddy's favorite.

    Daddy's favorite, to be sure. But most of the Western media (with South Korean and Japanese playing along) is acting as if it is mid-November 2008 and Kim Jong-un is Obama.

    The grandiose material cited in this post is from 2009. But the KCNA reports on Kim Jong-un following his debut on the dais are mundane where they are not absent. This tells me that even with the Pyongyang elite, Kim Jong-un's ascension will be a tough sale.

    They've seen this movie, they know the plot and they don't like the ending, and armed with how things went in the mid-1990s, now they can do something about it.

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  7. The more I look into it, the easier it is to see that the media rise of Kim Jong-un within North Korea, despite Western media fascination with it, is looking more and more like fantasy and speculation. He is The Kim Who Wasn't There.

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