I have in front of me a booklet, published in Pyongyang, entitled Kim Jong Il: The Genuine People's Leader. It is a book of worship. The Great Leader, the author exults, "is a genius. I cannot find other expression for his intellect, talent and leadership than genius".
And this, as Kim worship goes, is pretty tame stuff. The writer, Tapani Keskinen, a former vice-chairman of the Socialist party of Finland, is a model of Nordic sobriety compared to the kind of jubilations that North Koreans are subjected to on a daily basis. Not only are they meant to believe that Kim Jong Il is a leader of genius, but also a great soldier, a peerless film-maker, movie critic, philosopher, scientist, miracle worker, and holy man.
North Korean communism is more a religious cult than a political ideology. Like all modern Korean cults (think of the Moonies), it contains a mish-mash of animism, Confucianism, and even Christian elements. The Great Leader was in fact born in Russia during the war. But his official nativity story is set on Mount Paekdu, a sacred spot for all Koreans who believe that their country was founded there more than 4,000 years ago by a divine bear-man. When the Great Leader was born, a star shone brightly above Mt Paekdu, and his coming heralded the start of spring."
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