Above: Here, families take portraits with the Great Leaders watching in the background.
Top Left:One of the many official portraits of Kim il Sung.
___Korea's administration is based upon the idea of Juche, a subject based philosophy that creates a fervor around Kim il Sung and related parties rather than a deity or political system(14). Kim il Sung is known as the Great Leader because he has numerous titles; he was Prime Minister and then President of North Korea, and Chairman of the Korean Workers Party. Children can quote stories from Kim il Sung's childhood, much like Christians recite stories from the Bible.
_______"One officially propagated 'legend' about Kim il Sung's days as an anti-Japanese guerilla
_______ fighter in the 1930s and '40s described him as a mighty general astride a white horse,
_______ 'carrying an enormous sword, cutting a big tree down as if slicing a soft bean curd.' Another
_______ had him walking on water: 'Great Leader Comrade Kim il Sung turned pine cones into bullets
_______ and grains of sand into rice, and crossed a large river riding on fallen leaves.'" -excerpt from
_______ Bradley K. Martin's book "Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and
_______ the Kim Dynasty" (10)
___All across the country, even in the most undeveloped areas, portraits of Kim il Sung and his son/successor Kim Jong il hang(9). The capital city Pyongyang contains Kim il Sung paraphernalia, such as his tomb, his golden statue, Kim il Sung University, and other Party-approved structures such as the People's Study Hall, the Children's Palace, Mansudae Art Hall, and Pyongyang Grand Theater(14). Murals and billboard across the country often display Party worship, sometimes depicting Kim il Sung surrounded by children as a Jesus-like figure. Many citizens make pilgrimages related to Kim il Sung, such as the trek to the cottage where he was raised.
___ Kim il Sung originally captured the heart of his people after seizing political power by cunning and force, but built social influence through his charisma and personal appearances in small towns and factories(3). Songs, textbooks, novels, art, and even speech is built around praise of Kim il Sung. He is credited with many accomplishes, his feats seemingly as great as those of all the geniuses of the Renaissance combined; he is a philosopher, author, teacher, warrior, leader, artist, architect, and national father figure(10). His death in 1994, televised around the world, showed the international community the incredible and genuine impact he had on his people as they sobbed, almost as if they were laying flowers at the feet of a dead god(12).
________________Children cry as they sing a goodbye song to Kim il Sung
__________________after his death in 1994. Photo courtesy of pbs.com
___Even to this day, visiting tourists are invited and encouraged to lay flowers at the feet of his statue and bow to pay respects(9). His son Kim Jong il's birth was supposedly greeted with thunderstorms, shooting stars and rainbows, and now in his adulthood Kim Jong il is credited with writing six operas and directing many films, following in the multi-talented footsteps of his famed father(13).
___Each year, a celebration of administration called the Mass Games is arranged by the Party in honor of the Great Leaders--a massive choreographed demonstration of patriotism, loyalty, and nationalism. Thousands of men and women dance and perform on the arena floor while children sit in the stands and control flashcards, depicting images of the Great Leaders, national slogans, and areas of pride, wealth, or strength.