Kim Il Sung’s sad 100th birthdayTo celebrate Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday, a large-scale military parade was held in Pyongyang yesterday. Kim Il Sung Square was blanketed with soldiers of the People’s Army, Worker-Peasant Red Guard and Young Red Guard. At the parade, Kim Jong-un, grandson of Kim Il Sung, made his first official speech as head of the Workers’ Party, government and military. Did his grandfather crack a smile at the scene, feeling euphoric about a successful third-generation power transfer? Maybe he couldn’t.
The state-run North Korean Central News Agency released a photo showing a group of doctors and patients shedding tears in appreciation of a present from Kim Jong-un - pork hocks - in a land where one out of two children suffers from malnutrition due to a chronic food shortage. They might have been moved by the unexpected present from their young leader, but it would be unfortunate if their happiness is a result of the hereditary power succession. The North Korean army reportedly lowered their minimum height requirement of a military recruit from 145 to 142 centimeters (4 feet, 7 inches), which is a little taller than the average South Korean fourth-grade student.
Regardless, Kim Jong-un declared to the hundreds of thousands listening that he had put an eternal end to the checkered history of modern North Korea and elevated the dignity of his fatherland. But we are wondering if a self-proclaimed strong nation built on nuclear weapons and missiles without feeding its people is what Kim Il Sung really dreamed of.
Until the mid-1970s, the North Korean economy was ahead of its southern counterpart. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, however, it faced a painful reality. If Pyongyang had chosen a different path after throwing off the fetters of the outmoded juche (self-reliance) ideology, an entirely different result would have unfolded. Regrettably, Pyongyang remained a closed regime once Kim Jong-il took power in 1994 after Kim Il Sung’s death. It made North Korea an isolated, repressive country maintained by the elite class’s loyalty and political prisoner camps.
Kim Jong-un must reflect if a “strong” nation which imposes starvation on its people is worth it. He must ponder what his subjects think after watching a billion-dollar rocket vanish into thin air. His father reportedly told him that only nuclear weapons can guarantee the survival of the country. If Kim blindly follows his father’s words, there is no future for Pyongyang.