[FOUNTAIN]History repeatsThere are two very famous historical novel serials in North Korea. One is “The Immortal History,” a chronicle of Kim Il Sung’s life history. The saga is designed to idolize the late leader, and therefore, is not entirely fictional. The first volume of the series, “The Anchor Has Been Pulled Up,” was published in 1982 and deals with the formation of an alliance in 1925 to overthrow the Japanese imperialists. “The Eternal Life,” published in 1997, marked the finale of the series. It depicts the time from Mr. Kim’s New Year’s address in 1994 to his death on July 8.
The other series is “The Immortal Leader,” a thinly disguised fictional interpretation of Kim Jong-il’s rule in the North. “The Grand River of History,” published in 1997, drew much attention, because it was set during the nuclear crisis in 1993 and 1994. Mun Seon-gyu, the leading character of the story, is the first vice minister of foreign affairs and the negotiation counterpart of Robert Gallucci, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. Mun’s character is a fictional version of Kang Seok-ju, currently the first minister of foreign affairs. He is the head of the Nuclear Taskforce, an elite group with which Kim Jong-il frequently discusses the country’s stance at the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as the negotiations with the United States. In the novel, Kim Jong-il calls the Nuclear Taskforce “my elite team and the brain of the foreign ministry.” The plot evolves around the team’s triumph in obtaining a surrender from the Clinton administration, namely the Geneva Agreement.
Hidden in the novel is the code of North Korean diplomacy. French diplomacy is based on Talleyrand’s oratory and persuasion and Germany is armed with Bismarck’s iron diplomacy. Britain has Churchill’s deliberately calculated foreign policy. “Then how can we define the self-reliant diplomacy?” the novel asks. According to the author, North Korea’s foreign policy is defined by the “diplomacy of aggression,” based on Kim Jong-il’s guts.
After the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning North Korea, the attention of the international community focused on Pyongyang’s next move. Will it fight the sanctions or take a step back? The code in “The Grand River of History,” retaliation for retaliation, a total war for a total war, is a magic that only worked during the pre-9/11 Clintonian days. The U.S.-China relationship has changed and is still changing. The only possible way for Pyongyang to publish “The Grand River of History II” is negotiation.
by Oh Young-hwan
The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.