The Dear Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong IL died on 17th of December 2011 at age of 69. Like his birth, his death was also mystified by the state media. The KCNA release said that he died due to overwork of field inspection, later it was mentioned, that the medical cause of death being myocardial infraction or heart attack in layman’s language. It took almost 48 hours by the authorities of the DPRK to announce the news of the person who has been termed by them variously as Dear Leader, Great General, and since 2009 as the Supreme Leader. In one of the several ironies attached with him, the man who commanded the world’s fifth largest standing army and a cache of nuclear weapon was to die in a moving train as he was acrophobic (phobia of flying). Even though in one of his several official biographies, among other prowess that he possessed — one is fighter pilot mentioned also.
Kim is believed to have been born in a small fishing village of Vyatskyoe in 1941, when his father, Kim Il-Sung, was in exile in the Soviet Union. His name was filled as “Yuri Irsenovich Kim” by the Soviet bureaucrat who did the paperwork. But in North Korea’s official accounts, he was born in 1942, in a cabin, located in a secret camp of anti-Japanese guerrillas his father commanded on Mount Paektu, a holy piece of land in Korean mythology. The event, the official Korean media proclaim, was foretold by a swallow, accompanied by the appearance of a new bright star in the sky and a double-rainbow that touched the earth.
Kim Jong Il remained a controversial figure in world polity; a person, who was subject of joke and intense hate campaign of the capitalist government and media. His inimitable demeanour of elevator shoes, oversize sunglasses and a bouffant hairdo were all subject to both fascination and denouncement.
The former US president Bush decried him as a “pygmy” and placed him with other “axis of evil” regime, though he never mustered courage to attack the diminutive North while maintaining a virtual colony in the southern part of the Korean peninsula. Bush said that he would never tolerate a nuclear North Korea, but had no other option, but to look helplessly when Kim Jong Il was building nuclear stockpiles, while the giant US intelligence were scrambling for even a tiny bit of information to come out from the so called “hermit” regime.
The US and the west have been virtually proved wrong on all major issue of North Korea and the Kims.
It has been terming the regime as Communist and Marxist-Leninist, though Marxism-Leninism has been replaced by Juche ideology and all reference to Communism and Marxism-Leninism have been removed from the constitution as well as the national governance. Yet by claiming the regime to be communist – gives the imperialist powers a sinful pleasure and credibility to put all what is happening in DPRK to the vice called Marxism.
It also happens rarely in history that death of a ruler is greeted by sense of fear by the immediate neighbour. As soon as the death of Kim Jong Il was announced on the television by the quivering voice of news anchor, the South Korean cabinet was immediately convened to discuss the security issue arising due to the event.
The Japanese government also went in a panic situation with the Prime Minister declaring that “I have ordered officials to beef up intelligence-gathering on North Korea, to work closely with the United States, China and South Korea, and to prepare for further unexpected developments. We will gather information to assess how this incident will affect the situation. I have instructed (agencies) to prepare even for the unexpected to ensure this will not adversely influence peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”
Kim Jong Il took up the reign of DPRK after the death of Kim Il Sung his father, in 1994 and ruled for next 17 years without any solid ally. A combined cunningness and eccentricity not seen in many ruler, he oversaw his country’s rise as a nuclear and ballistic missile power on one hand, while on other presided over economic chaos and country’s slide into abject poverty,with estimated 2 million population perished (in absence of any neutral body, one may take this with a pinch of salt) in a famine that lasted from the mid-to-late 1990s due to natural calamity. DPRK had to ask for food aid from the UN and other agencies.
Kim resisted efforts by China, the U.S. and other countries to persuade him to end the nuclear-weapons programme that his father had started in the 1970s. In October 2006 North Korea first tested a half-kiloton nuclear device. It tested a more powerful nuclear explosive device in May 2009, leading to stiff sanctions by the United Nations Security Council that further damaged the economy. Though independent sources claim; that the DPRK’s nuclear capability is of a kindergarten level, with no evidence that it has been able to develop the knowhow of fitting the weapon atop a missile. Of late its missile program that has been developed by reverse engineering process, using the old and obsolete Soviet missiles has itself been plagued by problems.
All news item and stories about North Korea and Kim is lashed with how this last “Stalinist” “communist” bastion is keeping its vast majority of population hungry while the rulers of the ruling Workers’ Party enjoy a lavish life. But if the mismanagement and the functioning of the DPRK is to be blamed, then the US imperialism along with its junior partners the Japanese and South Koreans are also to be equally responsible for the food shortages.
It is true that food shortages have plagued the country. But the vilifying Kim obituaries don’t mention why North Koreans are hungry. The answer is sanctions. US foreign policy, like that of the Allied powers in WWI toward Germany, has been to starve its adversary into submission. This isn’t acknowledged, for obvious reasons. First, it would reveal the inhumane lengths to which US foreign policy is prepared to reach to secure its goals. And second, North Korean hunger must be used to discredit public ownership and a central planning as a workable economic model. North Koreans are hungry, the anti-Communist myth goes, because socialism doesn’t work. The truth of the matter is that North Koreans are hungry because Washington has made them so. Not surprisingly, calls by humanitarian groups for the United States to deliver food aid are being brushed aside with a litany of bizarre excuses, the latest being that food aid can’t be delivered because Kim Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-eun, has succeeded him. Huh? The real reason food aid won’t be delivered is because it would contradict US foreign policy. The United States once considered the death of half a million Iraqi children “worth it”. Its leaders would consider the sanctions-produced demise through starvation of as many North Koreans worth it, as well.
[Kim Jong-il’s Death is a Danger for North Korea, not its Neighbors ]
The Obituaries and reaction of his death also have been on predictable lines — by the pro DPRK regime and the heavily biased anti North Korean media.
The Economist, in its article titled Dear Leader, departed said:
“THE tyrant has perished, leaving a failing, nuclear-armed nation in the uncertain young hands of his “Great Successor”. His father, since 1994 the “Dear Leader” of one of the world’s most secretive and repressive states (iconic, to the right in the photo above), died on a train at 8.30am on Saturday morning, of a heart attack. North Korea’s 69-year-old supremo had been in poor health: he had heart disease and diabetes, and suffered a stroke in 2008. Nonetheless his demise places sudden and extraordinary pressure on his third son, his designated but untested successor, Kim Jong Un”
The New York Times in report titled A Ruler Who Turned North Korea Into a Nuclear State by David E. Sanger wrote:
Called the “Dear Leader” by his people, Kim Jong-il presided with an iron hand over a country he kept on the edge of starvation and collapse, fostering perhaps the last personality cult in the Communist world even as he banished citizens deemed disloyal to gulags or sent assassins after defectors.
He came to power after the death in 1994 of his father, Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder. His inheritance was an impoverished country with an uncertain place in a post-cold-war era. He played his one card, his nuclear weapons program, brilliantly, first defying efforts by the administration of George W. Bush to push his country over the brink, then exploiting America’s distraction with the war in Iraq to harvest enough nuclear fuel from his main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon to produce the fuel for six to eight weapons.
The Guardian said:
He was one of the most reclusive and widely condemned national leaders of the late 20th and early 21st century, and left his country diplomatically isolated, economically broken and divided from South Korea.
Unsurprisingly for a man who went into mourning for three years after the death in 1994 of his own father, the legendary leader Kim Il-sung, and who in the first 30 years of his political career made no public statements, even to his own people, Kim’s career is riddled with claims, counter-claims, speculation and contradiction.
On the Left, there are still many parties that hold DPRK as a socialist Marxist-Leninist state and Kim Jong Il as a great Marxist Leninist theoretician, though his only contribution to field of politics and political theory has been that of introduction of Songun(Army First) policy, where a substantial resource of the country is allocated to the Army even at the expense of the people.
In DPRK’s polity it is army and not the proletariat who are the defender of the revolution and the main role in the country has been assigned to the army and others – the working class, peasantry are to play secondary role to it. This policy is in continuation of the Juche ideology propounded by the Kim Il Sung—the eternal president of DPRK. Kim Jong added Songun to it with the avowed aim of fighting imperialism and enemies of Korean revolution.
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) led by Harpal Barar, who has been a vocal supporter of DPRK said:
Comrade Kim Jong Il was the most faithful, the most indefatigable and the most brilliant student of Korea’s greatest son, Comrade Kim Il Sung. It was he who took the President’s teachings of the Juche idea and the Songun idea and systematised them into a scientific programme for the revolutionary advance of the Korean people towards a great, prosperous and powerful nation.
…Comrade Kim Jong Il was modest and humble. He saw himself as a soldier and disciple of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and as a servant of the people. He devoted himself day and night, did his best, devoted his all, to the very last moment of his life, to his revolutionary work: to the defence and security of the country, to improving the people’s livelihood, and to the lofty goals and ideals of socialism and communism.
Another British Communist Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist Leninist) that follows the path of HardialBains, in their message of condolence observed:
There is little doubt that without Comrade Kim Jong Il leading the continued building of the DPRK as an impregnable fortress, capable of devastating retaliation on any who violate the peace, the DPRK would long since have fallen prey to the criminal aggression and wanton destruction of Anglo-American imperialism, a repeat of the Korean War of such bitter memory, wreaked upon other countries in recent times. This stand has inspired and will continue to inspire the struggling peoples of the world.
We are convinced that the Korean party and its leadership and the entire Korean people will turn their great grief into strength and march forward on the road of building a prosperous socialist country, sovereign and independent, and bring into being their cherished goal of reuniting the Korean nation by its own efforts, without outside interference. We, as they, will draw inspiration in our struggles from the heroic life and work of beloved Comrade Kim Jong Il.
New Communist Party of Britain stated:
Following Kim IlSung’s footsteps Kim Jong Il led the Workers Party of Korea into the 21st century to build a strong and prosperous democratic republic. Kim Jong Il was a leading Marxist thinker who made an important contribution to the modern communist theory as well as an astute statesman who led the Korean people through thick and thin to overcome natural disasters, imperialist blockade and diplomatic isolation.
While ensuring the DPRK’s defence against the threats and provocations of US imperialism and its lackeys Kim Jong Il worked tirelessly to ease tension on the Korean peninsula to pave the way towards the peaceful reunification of Korea.
While the Communist Party of India (Marxist) declared:
Comrade Kim Jong Il led the country and the party during some of the most difficult times in the world’s history, combating the inhuman embargo imposed by the US and the resultant economic hardships. Till his end, he stood steadfast defending the principles of Marxism-Leninism and socialism. Carrying forward the legacy of the late Kim Il Sung and his theory of Juche, Kim Jong Il propounded the theory of the Shogun to suit the conditions of the country.
So like in his lifetime Kim Jong Il even after his death created what he was best known for – uncertainty.
What will be his legacy and how will history judge him is too early to tell, but he remained one of the few ruler or dictator (depending on which side one is) who remained consistent in his struggle and opposition to imperialism.
The third generation of the Kim family Kim Jong Un has become the ‘Great Successor’. The official machinery has started what they have perfected in all these years the art of propaganda and mystification of the ruler. So Kim Jong Un who is not even 30 has already been made a four star general, and the comrade Supreme Commander.
Kim Il Sung came up with idea of Juche and termed it as the only ideology to follow, which was even greater than Marxism Leninism. Kim Jong Il came up with Songun policy terming it as “all-powerful sword and guiding banner of the Korean revolution”. Now let us wait what new Kim will come up with!
3 thoughts on “Kim Jong IL Dies, ‘Son’ Rises”
This article seems more interested in talking about Kim Jong Il’s hairstyle than the DPRK’s politics – which shows.
It repeats “Marxist” criticisms that aren’t true. Juche isn’t seen as an ideology by the Koreans, but a principle key to their understanding of Marxism-Leninism – that of self reliance and independence. Likewise, Songun is a doctrine – not a new ideology – formulated to deal with the problems of sustaining the socialist state after its allies were destroyed in the late 80s/early 90s. The army were prioritised because the Koreans knew perfectly well what giving up their military defence from imperialism would mean – invasion and the destruction of all that they gained since the fight against Japanese colonialism. Juche and Songun are the way that the Koreans express their understanding of Marxism-Leninism – they don’t run contradictory or opposed to it.
Kim Il Sung stressed that there was nothing in the Juche idea that hadn’t been recognised by other great revolutionaries – it merely reemphasised them. Divorcing the DPRK from Marxism-Leninism is to do the flipside of what the Trotskyists do – it separates the defence of socialism from the defence of the Korean revolution, and vice versa.
Please refer to the analysis by Bill Bland titled “THE WORKERS’ PARTY OF KOREA AND REVISIONISM”. This has been also posted on this blog at:https://otheraspect.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/the-workers-party-of-korea-and-revisionism/ . We would be happy to revise our stand and would not then be “Divorcing the DPRK from Marxism-Leninism…”