Entries with label kim il-sung .

[Barbara Demick, Dear Leader. Living in North Korea. Turner. Madrid, 2011. 382 pages]

review / Isabel López

All dictatorships are the same to some extent. Regimes such as Stalin's, Mao's, Ceausescu's or Saddam Hussein's shared the installation of statues of these leaders in the main squares and their portraits in every corner... However, Kim Il-sung took the cult of personality in North Korea further. What set him apart from the rest was his ability to exploit the power of faith. That is, he understood very well the power of religion. He used faith to attribute to himself supernatural powers that served to glorify him staff, as if he were a God.

This is what it looks like in Dear Leader. Living in North Korea, by journalist Barbara Demick, who worked as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Seoul. The book chronicles the lives of six North Koreans from the city of Chongjin, located in the far north of the country. Through these six profiles, from people belonging to the class more leave, called Beuhun, to the class Demick exposes the different stages that have marked the history of North Korea.

Until the conquest and occupation of Japan in the 1905 war, the Korean empire ruled. During the rule of the neighboring country, Koreans were forced to pay high taxes and young men were taken with the Japanese army to fight in the Pacific War. After the withdrawal of Japanese troops in 1945, a new problem arose as the Soviet Union had occupied part of northern Korea. This led to the U.S. getting involved to slow the advance of the Russians. As a consequence, the territory was divided into two zones: the southern part occupied by the United States and the northern part occupied by the Soviet Union. In 1950 both factions were embroiled in the Korean War, which ended in 1953.

After the armistice there was a exchange Communist forces released thousands of people, more than half of whom were South Koreans. However, thousands of others never returned home. The freed prisoners were loaded into wagons departing from the Pyongyang station with the presumed intention of returning them to their place of origin in the south, but in reality they were driven to the coal mines of northern Korea, on the border with China. As a result of the war, the population had mixed and it was not possible to distinguish between North and South Koreans.

At the end of the war, Kim Il-sung, leader of the Workers' Party, began by purging all those who might endanger his leadership, based on a criterion of political reliability. Between 1960 and 1970, a regime was established that the author describes as one of terror and chaos. Each citizen's background was subjected to eight checks and a classification was established based on the past of their relatives, eventually becoming a caste system as rigid as India's. This structure was largely based on the system of Confucius, although the less amiable elements of it were adopted. Finally, the social categories were grouped into three classes: the principal, the vacillating, and the hostile. The latter included soothsayers, artists, and prisoners of war, among others.

Those belonging to the class more leave They had no right to live in the capital or in the most fertile areas and were closely watched by their neighbors. In addition, the so-called inminban were created, a term that reference letter to the cooperatives formed by about twenty families who managed their respective neighborhoods and who were responsible for transmitting any suspicion to the authorities. It was impossible to rise through the ranks, so it was passed down from generation to generation.

Children were taught respect for the party and hatred for Americans. The Education It was compulsory until the age of 15. From then on, only children belonging to the upper classes were admitted to the school. Education high school. The smartest and prettiest girls were taken to work for Kim Il-sung.

Until the end of the 1960s, North Korea seemed much stronger than South Korea. This caused public opinion in Japan to align itself in two camps, those who supported South Korea and those who sympathized with the North, called Chosen Soren. Thousands of people succumbed to the propaganda. The Japanese who emigrated to North Korea lived in a different world from the North Koreans since they received money and gifts from their families, although they had to give part of the money to the regime. However, they were considered part of the class hostile, since the regime did not trust anyone wealthy who was not a member of the party. Their power depended on their ability to totally isolate the citizens.

The book chronicles Japan's relationship with North Korea and its influence on the development economic of this. When Japan decided to build an empire in the early 20th century, it occupied Manchuria and took over the iron and coal deposits near Musan. For the transport of the booty, the city of Chongjin was chosen as a strategic port. Between 1910 and 1950 the Japanese erected huge steel mills and founded the city of Nanam, in which large buildings were built. development of North Korea. Kim Il-sung exhibited industrial power by taking credit for it and did not recognize any of Japan's credits. North Korean authorities took control of the industry and then installed missiles aimed at Japan.

The author also describes the lives of women workers in the factories that supported the development of the country. Factories depended on women because of the lack of male labor. A factory worker's routine, which was considered a privileged position, consisted of eight hours a day, seven days a week, plus the added hours to continue her work. training Ideological. Assemblies such as the socialist women's assembly and self-criticism sessions were also organized.

On the other hand, it emphasizes the extent to which people were molded, that they were regenerated to see Kim Il-sung as a great father and protector. In his purpose Kim Il-sung developed a new philosophical system based on the thesis Marxists and Leninists called Juche, which translates as self-confidence. He made the Korean people see that he was special and that he had been the chosen people. This thought captivated a community that had been trampled by its neighbors for centuries. He taught that the strength of human beings came from the ability to submit their individual will to the collective and that this collectivity should be ruled by an absolute leader, Kim Il-sung.

However, this idea was not enough for the leader, who also wanted to be loved. The author states that he "did not want to be seen as Stalin but as Santa Claus": he should be considered as a father in the Confucian style. Indoctrination began in kindergartens. For the next few years they wouldn't listen to any songs, they wouldn't read any article that he was not deifying the figure of Kim Il-sung. Lapel badges with his face were distributed, which were obligatory to wear on the left side, over the heart, and his portrait had to be in every house. Everything was distributed free of charge by the Workers' Party.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews