Exploring the cult of Kim Jong-il

One News, New Zealand/November 25, 2007

ONE News travelled to the secretive state of North Korea and explored the cult of personality that surrounds its leaders.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is mocked for his mysterious and reclusive nature, seen as a brutal dictator sitting on a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

But in North Korea he is revered, the love for him stemming from the idolisation of his father Kim-il Sung.

The Great Leader's image is everywhere, even in the town square and right alongside Communist thinkers Lenin and Marx.

His people pay homage to him, where at his birthplace, even brides and grooms visit on their marriage day.

Foreign visitors to the country are given a running commentary about Kim-il Sung even though he has been dead for the past 13 years.

But the eternal president still watches over his people from a massive granite tomb where even the windows are bricked out to preserve his earthly body.

But the question being asked is - Should the state be spending millions on monuments when people are struggling?

"That is nonsense that is nonsense absolute nonsense. Don't believe that," says a North Korean passer-by.

"There are of course hard times that fall upon a country and people starve but that has no relationship to the state and the Dear Leader's rule - also the state has been hit by economic sanctions as well."

It is believed that the North Korean people are brought up to believe that they are in utopia, and it is reinforced daily through songs and other kinds of propaganda.

But it is also claimed that there is no real resistance to the rulers or to any rules of the police state.

For example, the roads are policed daily despite there being hardly any cars.

People stick rigidly to the rule - one must use the underpasses because it is forbidden to cross the road.

It is just one of many things that are not allowed in the country, including challenging the regime in any way.

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