Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister and widely considered the regime’s second most important figure, recently ordered the Korean (Choson) Writers’ Alliance to produce new works of literature to mark the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) on Oct. 10 of this year. 

Kim, who is the deputy director of the country’s Propaganda and Agitation Department, issued the order on Feb. 12. The order comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rode up Mount Paektu on a white horse late last year, which has led to a continued stream of visits by ordinary North Koreans to revolutionary sites on the mountain. 

“In the order, Kim tasked members and writers in the Central Committee of the Korean Writers’ Alliance to produce literary works focused on the spirit of ‘Mount Paektu University,’ which was something Kim Jong Un mentioned last year when he climbed the mountain,” a North Korean source told Daily NK on Feb. 27. 

During his visit to the revolutionary sites on Mount Paektu in early December of last year, accompanied by party officials, Kim Jong Un coined the term “Mount Paektu University,” which essentially called on North Koreans to receive an education at Mount Paektu by visiting revolutionary sites on the mountain. 

OVERCOMING SANCTIONS THROUGH THE “MOUNT PAEKTU SPIRIT”

North Korean authorities have adopted the phrase “Mount Paektu University” to emphasize a sense of national solidarity and ideological strength amid continued international sanctions on North Korea.

North Korean officials believe that field trips to revolutionary sites on Mount Paektu will allow ordinary people to learn from the stories of resistance that their predecessors put up against imperialist Japan. North Korean authorities are, in effect, encouraging North Koreans to “attend Mount Paektu University” to overcome the hardships the country is facing due to international sanctions. 

Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the WPK, has also placed great significance on field trips to Mount Paektu, reporting extensively on North Koreans conducting visits to Mount Paektu since last December. The first page of the Thursday edition of the newspaper featured a story about a Mount Paektu field trip that involved Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) deputies and SPA Presidium officials.  

Kim Yo Jong’s recent directive to North Korean writers to produce literature focused on Kim Jong Un’s Mount Paektu ascent and the Mount Paektu spirit falls within this context and is clearly an attempt to inspire loyalty among North Koreans toward the country’s leadership during difficult times. 

“They [the writers] must produce great works of literature that can rally the entire party, the military, and the entire nation in the spirit of the genius of Kim Jong Un and his Mount Paektu ascent. These works must be suitable for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Party,” Kim reportedly said in the order, according to Daily NK sources. 

Kim ordered the creation of 70 literary works—short stories, novellas and novels—on the subject of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s greatness. These new works must be written within the following eight months, in time for the 75th anniversary of the founding of the WPK on Oct. 10. The works are meant to be a continuation of Immortal History (a series of books on Kim Il Sung’s life) and Immortal Leadership (a series of books on Kim Jong Il’s life).

The unit in charge writing novels within the Korean Writers’ Alliance has reportedly already begun work on the project. 

IMPACT OF THE CORONAVIRUS 

The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), however, has impacted the writers’ preparations for their works of literature, Daily NK sources said.

“The writers were supposed to travel throughout the counties, schools, villages and farms in North Korea to gather material for their works, but because of the virus the trips have been canceled,” one source told Daily NK. 

“The field trips will resume once the threat of the virus has disappeared,” he added. 

The state-run Korean Writers’ Alliance underwent a massive purge in 2012 following Kim Jong Un’s ascent to power, which led to a massive fall in the number of writers at the organization.

Kim Yo Jong has reportedly made efforts to cultivate a new generation of writers following the purge. 

*Translated by Violet Kim

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Ha Yoon Ah is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.