Events in Pyongyang

Yesterday the Korean Workers’ Party in Pyongyang celebrated its 65th anniversary with an immense parade that included an appearance by the new big man on campus and the putative successor, Kim Jong-Un.

The festivities are covered here with some nice photos from the left-wing Paris paper Liberation (via Yonhap), and the Huanqiu Shibao carries a handful of photos from Xinhua’s photographer in Pyongyang.

Huanqiu Shibao carries an interesting piece on Kim Jong-Un revealing that the “Young General” was explicitly revealed as Kim Jong Il’s son in an October 8 speech in Pyongyang. Probably more interesting, the article is titled “80 后金正恩半月内变身接班人 崇拜乔丹喜欢成龙动作片 [The “Born After 1980 Generation” Kim Jong Un Changes into the Successor Within Half a Month; He Worships Michael Jordan and Likes Jackie Chan Action Movies”], recapitulating some old tropes about Jong Un (his basketball moves in Bern, the fact that he is fluent in French) but which ends with the analysis that North Korean policy is unlikely to change.  The story also indicates how China is moving slowly toward a more South Korean/Western point of view in limited ways on North Korea, and does so by citing the defector-and-regime-change-friendly “Daily NK” website as a source, something that happens increasingly frequently in the PRC.

A couple of days ago, Huanqiu reported that Kim Jong Un’s name, unlike that of his father and grandfather, was not being printed in bold in the North Korean media, meaning he hasn’t reached deity status yet.  A small but important detail.

Around the time of the North Korean Party Congress, Huanqiu Shibao basically disabled its comment feature on North Korea related articles, but a few netizen comments are now trickling in on similar stories.  My favorite?  It’s in pinyin to avoid the censors: “du cai zhe”, or “独裁者/dictator.”


More promising signs of a throughgoing modernization of North Korea under the digital leadership of Kim Jong Un


Finally, especially for the benefit of readers in South Korea who languish behind the “great KCNA firewall,” but also because this kind of thing matters in North Korea, a dispatch dating from Pyongyang, September 30.  Kim Jong Suk, the mother of Kim Jong Il who died in 1949 and now a kind of matron saint to the entire DPRK, is frequently called upon to do fictitious duty to bring about some lesson to the North Korean masses.  Having read her official biography (published in 2000) and knowing that there is virtually no evidence in Manchuria about her work as a guerrilla fighter in China (thanks to documents I read from the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive describing North Korean historian expeditions into the PRC in 1953 looking for just such evidence, futilely), it never ceases to amaze me just how busy she has become thanks to the Korean Central News Agency.  An impressive woman, but, perhaps, an even more impressive propaganda apparatus that uses her wraith to expound upon what is needed in the year 2010 in the DPRK, led by her offspring:

Story of Kim Jong Suk

One autumn day in Juche 35 (1946) President Kim Il Sung was supposed to leave for field guidance to Sakju County.

Before his departure, anti-Japanese heroine Kim Jong Suk checked preparations of the attendants and asked the driver whether he learnt the condition of the road to Sakju County.

The driver could not answer properly because he only consulted a map to find the road.

Kim Jong Suk, saying that the driver of the President’s car should always know well about the geographical features and conditions of roads of his field guidance tour, let him know of matters demanding special attention.

She then entered the residence and came out again with a shovel and pickax in her hands. She handed them to the driver, saying that it was expected to shower on mountainous areas of North Phyongan Province in the afternoon according to the weather forecast given by the meteorological observatory last night, so that the road might be hollowed by mountain torrents.

The attendants were deeply touched by her careful concern for the President’s safety.

In other words, North Korean people, buckle up and bring your shovels.  Be ready for anything, especially in North Pyong’an.

80后金正恩半月内变身接班人 崇拜乔丹喜欢成龙动作片


  1. I’m really in love with Mother Kim. Would she be beautified by this point in the Catholic world?

    1. One can hope, Jeff, one can hope…Had I mentioned she was also handy with a pair of Mausers?

  2. This is a family truly at home in today’s global village. The eldest son loafs around the chi chi venues in Macau and Beijing, while the youngest is considered by dad to be too effeminate and with questionable taste in music, to wit, Eric Clapton. Brilliant photos to be found on Chinahush.

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