[INSIGHT] All That Meets the Eye Is Not True

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[INSIGHT] All That Meets the Eye Is Not True

"Yeongsaeng (Eternal Life)," a North Korean novel, depicts the movement of the people in power in North Korea during the period from the nuclear crisis in 1994 to the death of North Korean leader, Kim Il-sung. Kim Il-sung and National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il appear under their real names and the other characters appear under assumed names, but in most cases it is clear what real life person is being referred to. Although it is a novel it gives a useful glimpse at the inner workings of North Korea.

The objective of North Korean novels is the deification of father and son, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, which account for the fact that these two characters in this novel are constantly worrying and taking pains for their people. Even when Kim Il-sung has sore eyes, he will not be hospitalized because he does not have the time for treatment. Everyday Kim Jong-il has to work on reports till late at night, so his eyes are always bloodshot due to lack of sleep. He always wears sunglasses lest his father sees his eyes and worry.

When I read this novel, I felt what was written there might be true. When the fact that people work hard even if they manage a drugstore is taken into consideration, it is quite natural for national leaders to work hard managing their country. The characters appearing in this novel work hard in a struggle of life or death. Then why are the North Korean people starving to death when their leaders work so hard? What has gone wrong? Is it simply because of the calamity due to sequential floods in North Korea?

Two years ago I went on a Mt. Kumgang tour. There, I saw North Koreans building a house on the street side but only one or two people were working, while the rest idled around. When these facts are documented and reported to the high officials it will be said that all workers have been working hard all day long. Papers based on this fabrication will be made and the North Korean leaders will work till dawn reading these falsehoods and making policies based on them. The enormous organization of North Korea is managed under such a false system. In the foundation of lies and falsehoods, no matter how much effort is poured in or achievements made, it is still a sequential series of falsehoods and lies. The same rules apply to academics. For more than a millennium, from the ancient times to the Middle Ages, scholars accumulated erroneous astronomy based on Ptolemaic theory that the sun circles the earth. But when heliocentric theory turned out to be true, earlier astronomy became trash. The efforts put into the project became good for nothing. Therefore, pursuit on truths and facts are the most important tasks in the scholarly attainments.

Authorities of the South Korean government held an advanced briefing for the press, before the Seoul-Washington Summit meeting, which was held on March 7. It informed Korean reporters how the summit would turn out. In the briefing things only agreeable to the ear were said, such as the United States would support the North Korea policies of South Korea and South Korea and the United States would maintain their mutual cooperation. But the results did not meet the expectations of the briefing. The minister of foreign affairs and trade and the chief of the National Intelligence Service had visited Washington to prepare for the summit. While they were visiting the firm attitude of the Bush administration towards North Korea was apparent. But in the briefing from the Seoul side none of this was reflected. There will be no way of knowing if they heard those sentiments in Washington or if they had taken notice but kept their silence while they were reporting to the president. There were reports that President Kim Dae-jung got a sore eye overworking while preparing materials for the summit. If that is so, one may wonder whether President Kim acquired his ailment overworking on materials based on falsehood and if the state's other affairs are also managed this way.


by Moon Chang-keuk

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