Tenacious Excrement and Koguryo Ur-nationalism in North Korea

Kim Jong Il visited a chicken farm in North Pyong’an province yesterday, and he did more than leave behind this ghoulish photo:

courtesy Xinhua

No, the Dear Leader left this piece of wisdom for his subjects to ponder:

He also provided field guidance to the North Phyongan Provincial Chicken Farm.

He expressed great satisfaction over that fact that the officials and workers of the farm have made leaping progress in the production of chicken and eggs.

It is very gratifying that the officials and workers of the farm are raising a lot of ducks and pigs by making an effective use of excrement of chicken, he said, highly appreciating their tenacious work style.

KCNA is known for its locutions, but this is a new one for me.  The somewhat imprecise use of the plural pronoun “their” (covered in section 23b in Diana Hacker’s masterful Rules for Writers) implies that the Dear Leader could in fact be complementing the chickens for being tenacious in producing shit.  But I suppose that at least that means they are being fed.

This frail man does indeed seem to contrast quite starkly with the jaunty individual seen embracing Hu Jintao Wen Jiabao and grinning at Bill Clinton.  And his left arm is firmly lodged in his coat pocket at all times.

Perhaps legacies are indeed on his mind again, as his trip to North Pyong’an was paired with this story about Koguryo tombs in South Pyong’an.  The North loves to look back at the Koguryo indeed, and implications of Kim as a kind of neo-Koguryo emperor must have some resonance.

Perhaps this is so, as the Rodong Sinmun argues so suavely in a signed article:

The Koreans who have lived in one and the same territory as a homogenous nation since the olden times are a proud nation not only in terms of its long history but in the development of its culture.

The Koreans are very proud of their tradition in which they have never yielded to the foreign invasion.

The dignity and spirit of the Koreans as an independent nation have been highly exalted thanks to General Secretary Kim Jong Il, peerlessly great man and outstanding illustrious commander of Songun.

Only when all the Koreans fully display patriotism with pride and self-confidence that the Korean nation is the best in the world is it possible to achieve the great unity of the nation and the cause of national reunification.

The Koreans are required to force the foreign forces out of south Korea and achieve the historic cause of national reunification by their concerted efforts. It presents itself as a more important task than ever before for them to deeply cherish the Korean nation-first spirit, preserve the history and culture peculiar to them and positively keep alive the patriotic tradition of not yielding to foreign aggressor forces.

Especially the Chinese!  Thus the building up of a defensive road between Hoeryong and Chongjin, as Good Friends reports.  The northern frontier is getting awfully active of late…Fortunately KCNA lifts its head in time to blast off one final salvo at “the Japanese militarists,” fear of whom hardly seems likely to inspire superhuman efforts in the calorie-deficient aftermath of the 150-day struggle campaign.

Perhaps word has gotten out that a new, more friendly government is in town in Tokyo:

Far from drawing due lesson from the fact that the LDP was reduced to an opposition party after being sternly punished by the people for its corrupt policy, militarist policy, its gangs and other ultra-right elements have set out on the road for revival of militarism again in an attempt to turn the whole of Japan into a militarist war state for overseas aggression.

Visit to the “Yasukuni shrine” is not a mere rite peculiar to Japan. Praying at the shrine while burning incense and with hands clasped is as good as an act of resolving to build the “great Japanese empire” without fail, cherishing the will of the predecessors who fell in the madcap militarist overseas aggression, and even risk a war if necessary.

Fans of Brian Myers can decide for themselves if the second paragraph evokes anything along the lines of a  subtle Kim-as-Hirohito thesis.

Monument building on the upper Yalu river (the new pillar seems to be vibrating due to the speed of the campaign), west of Linjiang -- photo by Adam Cathcart, July 2009


    1. GI, I believe it is “Kim Jong Il is the sun of the 21st century” but I could be wrong. I will check my other file photos for better shots and aim to correct myself if that isn’t it.

  1. Adam,

    Not that I am saying the DPRK is completely at ease with China, but I speculate that the alleged build-up of the northern border defense has more to do with preventing a mass exodus of talbukjas fleeing the country than pre-empting a Chinese invasion. I have a feeling that folks behind Daily NK and certain groups of people (not to name any names) just love driving a wedge between the DPRK and China.

    1. JCM, that’s a good point, and in fact come to think of it, the buildup in the north could be something the Chinese specifically or tacitly encourage. I’m not privy to their conversations, so can’t say either way. Yet the (almost certain) PLA leak of the sarin gas story near Sinuiju and the Chinese publicity about the May 25 nuclear test impacts near Yanbian would seem to indicate that China is willing and able to depict the DPRK as a kind of military threat to China.

      I certainly don’t disagree with your last sentence; however, it might be equally interesting to see if that wedge you mentioned is in some ways pushed forward by young Chinese patriots galvanized by North Korea’s recent intransigence. Although there’s no polling data existent to support this claim, I think that Chinese attitudes toward North Korean armaments and nuclear weapons are more than a little ambivalent. And of course, taking BBS chat room material as sources has its problems as well: it’s somewhat anecdotal, and the sample is skewed by the paid commentators hired by the CCP to promote whatever viewpoint.

      Thanks for the input as always!

  2. Adam,

    I’d say the overwhelming majority of Chinese netizens hold quite negative views about the DPRK if we were to believe what we see on Chinese forums etc., however I doubt that any of them are actively engaging in any kind of effort to make the Chinese government reconsider its North Korea policy. I just think that there are certain people and certain elements in both the US and South Korea who love to see the DPRK turning its back on China and they are doing their best to make it appear so. For example, Daily NK got so excited reporting the military build-up along the Chinese border. Another example is a recent interview with a talbukja hiding in China who told Daily NK that young North Korean intellectuals like him are overwhelmingly anti-China these days, which might very well be the case. You just wonder what they are trying to achieve by enthusiastically telling the Chinese audience that. Do they want to force some sort of change in China’s North Korea policy? I am wondering what kind of North Korea policy these folks (elements with the US and SK) want China to adopt. Completely hands-off?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s