I’ve blogged here about monarchy, so it’s appropriate to report on the passing of a de facto monarch, North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il. He had succeeded his father, and one of his sons is officially his successor: Kim Jong Un. I’ve seen lots of speculation about which of his other relatives might have succeeded him or else might be powers behind the throne. Ah, the internal politics of a royal family.
Though officially atheist, Communists have been known to turn their leaders into god figures, and North Korea has gone very far. Kim Jong-il: man of implausible talents – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English lists some juicy examples.
North Korean officialdom claims that he was born in a secret military camp on Mt. Paektu. His birth was announced by a small bird and when it happened, there was a double rainbow and a new star. But according to Soviet records, he was born in Vyatskoye near Khabarovsk a year earlier.
We have a plausible alternative hypothesis because we have good records, but if we did not, then how well could we tell fact from fiction?
That officialdom also claims that he hit 11 holes-in-one in a golf game, and that he invented meat sandwiches. Also according to that source, he was loved as a great leader by everybody else in the world, and his center-zipped khaki pantsuits were a big fashion hit the world over.
Here also, if we had no other sources, could we be able to tell fact from fiction? Fortunately we do, and the last two are especially laughable — I can easily discover oodles of counterevidence.
What next for North Korea? Kim Jong Un has been the “Brilliant Comrade”; will he now become the Brilliant Leader? He’s only 29, so he could be in power for an awfully long time.
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