The High Price of Idolatry

The idolization of the family of Kim Jong Eun is now officially beyond a joke, as a process which began with the death of Kim Il Sung is now being applied to Kim Jong Il.

The Chosun Workers’ Party, via a ‘special report’ from the Politburo, has announced that Kim Jong Il’s body is to be preserved and laid out in the same building as Kim Il Sung’s, making North Korea the first state in history to embalm both father and son for public display!

That is not all; North Korea also plans to build monuments to the deceased dictator in a number of different parts of the country. First and foremost, statues of Kim will be erected; there will also be memorial portraits, along with towers to his eternal life for those areas without statues.

In addition, Kim Jong Il’s birthday is now to be known as ‘Gwangmyeongsung Day’, just as his father’s birthday is known as the ‘Day of the Sun.’ In the fullness of time, North Korea’s English-language propaganda media will doubtless translate this somehow; ‘Day of Bright Hope’, perhaps.

All of which can only be a warning sign for us and for a North Korean people which continues to suffer chronic food insecurity. We should perhaps remember with great concern the time when Kim Jong Il used $900 million to both permanently preserve Kim Il Sung’s body and then create Keumsusan Memorial Palace to keep it in.

It is no simple task to erect a statue of anybody, let alone someone who presumably requires a large statue such as Kim Jong Il. In the South Korean city of Gumi, a mere 5m statue of former President Park Chung Hee cost 1.2 billion South Korean Won ($1.03 million). Kim Il Sung’s statue in Pyongyang is 24m high. For a massive statue like that to be erected, the foundations also need to be consolidated, then a road must be paved to go to the area. Lighting needs to be set in place and electricity provided all year round.

Thus, at the same time as Kim Il Sung was being publicly idolized, thousands upon thousands of people in different parts of the country were collapsing in the streets of hunger. If Kim Il Sung’s body had been cremated and scattered at sea then the North Korean people would not have starved, at least in principle.

The Kim family idolization project is not a simple comedy or a caricature, something to be laughed at like the odd behavior of an eccentric relative. North Korea cannot afford any of this, and will take the money from the people’s pockets. The opening act of the 3rd generation succession tragedy is beginning.

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