Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kim Jong-Il's Death -- More Articles from Joo Seong-Ha

Here is a summary of a few more articles by Mr. Joo Seong-Ha, published since yesterday's post.

Ten Real Concerns by Ordinary North Koreans
[권력승계 시기-방식엔 관심없는 北주민들… 그들이 진짜 신경쓰는 10가지] (Dec. 26, 2011)

Joo notes that ordinary North Koreans could not care less about when and how Kim Jong-Un succeeded the throne, because they know that their lives will not change. Joo then notes ten points about which North Koreans truly care.

1. What do you call Kim Jong-Un?  Kim Il-Sung was called "Chairman" [수령님], and Kim Jong-Il was called "General" [장군님]. Kim Jong-Un is still being called "Comprade" [동지], but that will almost certainly change going forward.

2. What do you call Kim Jong-Un's sayings?  Kim Il-Sung's sayings are called "lessons" [교시]. Kim Jong-Il's sayings are called "remarks" [말씀]. Both "lessons" and "remarks" have to be quoted extensively when North Koreans speak in public. There is no directive as to what Kim Jong-Un's sayings will be called.

3. When will the badge with Kim Jong-Un's face come out?

4. Will there be another round of forced labor?  After Kim Il-Sung passed, North Korea built thousands of "Towers of Eternal Life" [영생탑] to commemorate Kim Il-Sung by extorting people's money and labor. There may be another round of this, because the officials would hardly miss a chance to extort money in the process.

5. Will there be a special ration on January 8, known to be Kim Jong-Un's birthday?

6. How will Kim Jong-Il's statues be placed?  Currently, statues of Kim Il-Sung are placed at the center of every city. Would Kim Jong-Il's statue be placed next to those statues? Will they face the Kim Il-Sung statues, or will they stand side-by-side?

7. Will there be a "revolution study lab" for Kim Jong-Un also?  At every school, corporation and factor in North Korea, three rooms are dedicated as "revolution study lab", each chronicling the achievements of Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jeong-Sook [Kim Il-Sung's wife] and Kim Jong-Il. It will cost a lot of money to construct an additional room for Kim Jong-Un. Even if those rooms are prepared, there is not much to add for Kim Jong-Un because of his youth.

8. When will the first Kim Jong-Un book come out?  There are thousands of books that proclaim the greatness of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, but there is yet no such book about Kim Jong-Un.

9. Will the "Ten Principles" change?  The "Ten Principles for Solidifying the Unitary Ideological System," a statement of governing principles in North Korea, begins with the words "The Great Chairman Comprade Kim Il-Sung." As North Koreans who aspire to be in any important position have to memorize the ten principles word-for-word, the potential change in wording (to include Kim Jong-Il) would be important.

10. Will there be a new song?  Every meeting in North Korea began with singing the songs for Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. There is not yet a song for Kim Jong-Un, and it is an open question whether three songs would be required to sung in every meeting also.

Joo also notes that there may be new money with Kim Jong-Il's face printed on it.

The "Apples" of Pyongyang are Trembling
[달러 맛에 흠뻑 취해 호화생활… 평양의 ‘애플족’이 떨고있다] (Dec. 27, 2011)

Joo notes that the children of the high-ranking North Korean officials are called "apples" -- red on the outside, white on the inside -- because despite outwardly being the most dedicated communists, they are in fact the most capitalistic members of North Korea. They are in the position to handle a lot of money through extortion and bribes, and they enjoy luxurious life filled with imported goods. Because they have the most to lose, they fear the collapse of North Korean regime more than anyone else. Since the hold of power is fickle in North Korea, they always have an escape route ready.

The Secret of Pyongyang's Million Mourners
[오늘 김정일 영결식… 평양 ‘통곡의 100만 물결’ 비밀은] (Dec. 28, 2011)

In anticipation of Kim Jong-Il's public funeral, Joo recounts his memory of Kim Il-Sung's funeral. He remembers that the hearse passed him by very quickly. Although he was surrounded by fellow Kim Il-Sung University students, he noticed that few of his fellow students cried. But he believes that for those who cried, the tears were genuine. Joo doubts that the same level of grieving will happen with Kim Jong-Il, and is certain that there will be no tears left for Kim Jong-Un.

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


  1. Thank you for the translations, TK. Although I don't know exactly what to anticipate in the coming years, my dad seems to think reunification may be possible within the next ten years.

    Again, I have no idea....but all I know is I'll be praying for North Korea...and praying for reunification.

  2. It's quite telling that Kim Jong Eun has no equivalent title to 'Great Leader' or 'Dear Leader'...


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