This weekend, a South Korean former-diplomat sensationally claimed that Kim Jong-un is in a “in a coma” but believed that “his life has not ended”.
This weekend, a South Korean former-diplomat sensationally claimed that Kim Jong-un is in a “in a coma” but believed that “his life has not ended”. The 36-year-old dictator’s health has been regularly debated since April after he did not make public appearances for a number of weeks. During that time, it was alleged that he underwent surgery to fit a stent into his heart – claims that were not denied or confirmed in North Korea – and led some to believe he had died. His sister, Kim Yo-jong, took on more responsibilities within the hermit kingdom during those periods of absence and even blasted South Korea defectors as “human scum” and “mongrel dogs”. Information about the nation’s leaders are typically scarce and claims of ill-health often suppressed. But history shows that when a ruler has died, propaganda is rife within the state, and secret departments are tasked with conjuring up mythical and poetic claims about their fallen ‘Supreme Leader’.
Recent beliefs about Kim Jong-un mirror the suspicions about his father, the former leader Kim Jong-il, after he didn’t attend North Korea’s 60th Anniversary of the nation being founded in September 2008.
Many suggested he was “seriously ill or dead” because he disappeared from the public eye and was absent from the celebration – but it was later confirmed that he suffered a stroke one month before.
The ruler served for 17 years until his death in December 2011 and ,much like his birth, a number of myths emerged about his passing.
These mistruths were conjured by a department of writers within the state and then widely disseminated through state media.
Mr Mikul, who published ‘My Favourite Dictators’ last year, recalled that even “nature had something to say” about the death of Kim Jong-il.
North Korean media reported “a strange red glow in the sky over Mount Paektu” – the location that official state records claimed was the former leader’s birthplace
It’s believed the colour red was deliberately chosen for its association with patriotism within the state, as well as the belief that it represents the resilience and determination of North Korean people.
Mr Mikul recalled how state media reported that “ice on nearby Lake Chon cracked with a noise ‘so loud it seemed to shake the Heavens and the Earth’” at the time of his death.
The claims were part of a mythical legacy written by the state’s propaganda department – which served a new narrative about his life to citizens that drastically differed from reality.
While the records described that Kim Jong-il was actually born on the slopes of the nation’s tallest mountain, he was actually delivered in Vyatskoye, a small village in Siberia, Russia.
They also claimed that “a thunderstorm abated and the clouds parted to reveal a brilliantly coloured double rainbow” after he was born and also “a new star” was seen “twinkling in the sky”.
Similarly, when the nation’s founder Kim Il-sung died of a heart attack in 1994, his legacy was recorded through a number of poetic descriptions.
Jang Jin-sung, the nation’s former poet laureate who defected in 2004, was responsible for creating literary works to support the regime under the alias of a South Korean named Kim Kyong-min.
Why North Korea ‘faces real danger’ over national emergency [INTERVIEW]
North Korea: Horror dog confession amid ‘pet dogs for food’ claim [ANALYSIS]
North Korean leader’s drunken parties exposed amid pets for food fear [INSIGHT]
In his 2014 book ‘Dear Leader’, he described the task of writing a number of poems to promote North Korea and give the illusion of support for the nation outside of the hermit kingdom.
As the third anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s death drew near, he was ordered to write a piece to remember the deceased leader as the “Smiling Sun”.
He was briefed that the poem had to show that “the Supreme Leader is alive and with us forever” – while simultaneously embellishing and fabricating his life achievements.
Jin-sung suggested one idea to his managers: “The Supreme Leader triumphed over individual suffering and anguish and dedicated his entire life to his people and homeland by smiling.
“In other words, our Supreme Leader lived for his people and not for himself… all the tears that were to have been shed by his people our supreme leader took on himself alone to shed.”
Jing-sung set to further cement the leader’s legacy with other poetic claims – that may be replicated after the death of Kim Jong-un.
In the conclusion to his proposed poem about Kim Il-sung, the writer added: “When the Supreme Leader gave the people his gift of smiling, it manifested as his love.
“When he sowed his gift on our lands, it manifested as rays of the sun; and as he left his gift for history, it manifested as immortal life.”