Kim Jong Il Statue on the Way

A special report issued today by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Chosun Workers’ Party has announced a list of four measures to be taken to commemorate the life of Kim Jong Il, including the construction of a commemorative statue and the enshrinement of his corpse.

The report was carried by Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) and on the front page of Rodong Shinmun this morning.

The four instructions are as follows;

▲ Great leader comrade Kim Jong Il is to be placed just as he was when he was living in Keumsusan Memorial Palace, the most sacred shrine to Juche.
▲ A statue of great leader comrade Kim Jong Il is to be respectfully constructed.
▲ February 16th, the birthday of great leader comrade Kim Jong Il and the most important holiday for the entire people, is to be named ‘Gwangmyungsung Day’.
▲ Images of great leader comrade Kim Jong Il’s is to be respectfully placed in every district, and towers to his eternal life are to be constructed.

“These decisions reflects the aspirations and earnest requests of the entire people, Party and People’s Army soldiers to successfully complete the work of the Juche revolution pioneered from Mt. Baekdu,” the report explained.

The decisions will not surprise North Korea watchers, who had expected Kim Jong Il to be embalmed and put on display in Keumsusan Memorial Palace, where the body of Kim Il Sung is also maintained with the help of Russian experts. It was also widely seen as only a matter of time before a prominent public statue was erected.

[imText1]The renaming of Kim Jong Il’s birthay was not as widely predicted; however, it is not without precedent. In 1997, after three years of mourning, North Korea renamed Kim Il Sung’s birthday the ‘Day of the Sun’, while Kim Jong Il’s birthday has been commonly referred to as the “most important holiday for the entire people” since 1995. In 1998 and 2009, North Korea claims to have launched satellites known as ‘Gwangmyungsung No.1’ and ‘Gwangmyungsung No.2,’ with the word ‘gwangmyung’ itself meaning “bright future” or “ray of hope”, hence the revised name.

There are already tower-shaped monuments to the eternal life of Kim Il Sung in many locations around North Korea, including one at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (see picture). Local people attend memorial events at them on big national holidays like April 15th and February 16th in those areas without ready access to a statue of Kim Il Sung. Towers to the eternal life of Kim Jong Il are likely to follow a similar format.

Chris Green, Leiden University
Christopher Green is a researcher in Korean Studies based at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Chris has published widely on North Korean political messaging strategies, contemporary South Korean broadcast media, and the socio-politics of Korean peninsula migration. He is the former Manager of International Affairs for Daily NK. His X handle is: @Dest_Pyongyang.