The cult of Kim ripens with age

The Scotsman/February 17, 2007
By Jon Hershkovitz

Singing soldiers and flower shows marked the birthday of the man dubbed North Korea's "invincible brilliant commander" by state-controlled media, as regional powers wondered whether he would abide by a nuclear deal.

The communist world's first dynastic leader, Kim Jong-Il, 65, is the unchallenged head of the reclusive state whose economy has fallen deeper into poverty during his years in power.

North Korea reached a deal earlier this week to shut down its sole nuclear reactor in exchange for energy aid as well as other economic and diplomatic incentives if Kim decides to scrap his country's nuclear arms programme.

With nuclear weapons, impoverished North Korea gets a seat at the table with global powers including the United States - the nation it argues is trying to topple it and causes it to sacrifice so much to maintain its armed forces of 1.2 million.

Kim's main priority is to stay in power and his media has credited him with forcing the US to make concessions through the nuclear agreement.

He is seen as a deity at home, where thousands danced in the streets of Pyongyang yesterday to mark his birthday and the military hosted a gala, with song and dance numbers for tunes such as My Happiness is in the Bosom of the Respected General.

Outside North Korea, Kim is seen as man with a bouffant hair-do, drab jumpsuit and platform shoes who has done little to help his starving people and has let the country's industry stagnate.

Like his father, he has constructed a cult of personality. On becoming leader, the younger Kim declined to assume the title of president, instead designating his father "eternal president" and opting to rule as chairman of the National Defence Commission and head of the ruling party. He has also reportedly been honoured with 1,200 other titles.

North Korea's official media has said flowers come into bloom when he appears and rainbows fill the sky on his birthday.

He is, it is said, a man who pilots jet fighters, has penned operas, produced films and accomplished a feat unmatched in the annals of professional golf, shooting 11 holes-in-one during the first round he ever played.

On previous birthdays, the "Wonders of the February holiday" have included sunrises so brilliant that frost exploded with the sound of firecrackers, rainbows appeared and frozen lakes thawed with such a noise that it caused mountains to shake.

Kim is also apparently blessed with a photographic memory .

Although South Korean and foreign analysts say Kim was born in the Soviet Union, official media say he was born at a revolutionary camp on Mount Paektu, a northern mountain on the Korean peninsula that many Koreans consider sacred. They claim a double rainbow appeared when he was born.

Some of the 1,200 official titles bestowed upon Kim Jong-Il

  • Dear Leader
  • Peerless Leader
  • Great Suryong (chieftain)
  • Fatherly Leader of all Koreans
  • Leader with Extraordinary Personality
  • The Sun of Socialism
  • The Sun of Revolution
  • The Sun of Juche (self-reliance)
  • The Sun of Life
  • The Eternal Sun
  • The Sun of the 21st Century
  • The Ever-Victorious General
  • Lode Star of the 21st Century
  • World's Greatest Writer
  • Greatest Musical Genius
  • Supreme Commander at the Forefront of the Struggle Against Imperialism and the United States
  • Man with Encyclopaedic Knowledge
  • World's Best Ideal Leader with Versatile Talents
  • Power Incarnate with Endless Creativity
  • Master of the Computer Who Surprised the World
  • Present-Day God
  • Heaven-Sent Hero
  • Guardian Deity of the Planet
  • Eternal Bosom of Hot Love

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