My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My fascination with North Korea is well known; I’ve read just about every book on the subject, which was why picking this up was a no-brainer. And the text did not disappoint.
The author painstakingly walks readers through an exhaustive look at North Korean cultural mythology, and examines the cults of personality built up around Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un. Not only does he examine these cults of personality, he explains why, precisely, it is that they work to sway the masses. He takes the reader on a journey through history, stopping frequently to discuss North Korea’s relations with the United States, Russia, and South Korea, and always makes mention of the propaganda that allows North Korea to sell its version of these political narratives to its people. (He adds that the North Korean myth that South Koreans live in poverty and squalor and yearn for reunification under the Great Leader became much harder to sell once North Koreans became aware of the South’s wealth in terms of material superiority, so now the myth has become that though South Koreans are wealthy now, they yearn for simple, moral lives and support reunification still. In reality, of course, the majority of South Koreans spare no thought for any of the Kims and are perfectly happy to delay reunification forever.