After claiming to drive a car in three and win a yacht race in nine

The North Korean leader is "humbling" and orders that he and his family not be portrayed as a legend

  • The North Korean leader inspects a building that was restored after the floods that swept the country.


  • North Korean leader on the sacred Mount Paqueto last October.

    From the source


For decades, North Korean ruling family members have portrayed themselves as semi-gods, never making mistakes, but now, as the country faces some of the toughest challenges for years on many fronts, leader Kim Jong Un is taking a different approach. Infallible because he is human, and with the country facing the coronavirus epidemic, flood damage, and economic sanctions, Kim apologizes and admits to political mistakes and lapses, visits disaster areas, and according to state media, he ordered officials to stop "portraying his family as a myth" because that might "hide the truth" .

Kim's departure from tradition was evident last week, when he quickly apologized for North Korea's killing of a South Korean civil servant, just one day after demanding Seoul officials respond, and Pyeongyang rarely responded with such directness or speed, and security experts say the expressions The frankness of such concessions is not a sign of weakness, but rather an indication that Kim sees himself operating from a position of strength, sitting atop a nuclear arsenal that he claims could strike the mainland of the United States, and they also indicate that the Kim regime will not be in a hurry to revive Nuclear talks with the United States to win economic relief.


"Is all this just a decoration for the political window?" North Korean leadership expert Michael Madden, a non-resident fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, answers this question with "yes", and goes on to ask, "Is it a democracy like South Korea?"

He concludes, "No, but Kim Jong Un is trying to normalize the situation in North Korea as much as he can."

North Korea hid for a large part of its history behind the holiness of the Kim family, and dealt with domestic crises completely differently. The head of the Korea Institute for National Unity, Koh Yoo Hwan, a South Korean government research center, says that the leaders acted according to the principle of "do nothing wrong." : "And because they believe themselves to be gods, they portray themselves as impossible to make mistakes."

Government propaganda claimed that the founder of the state found Kim, Kim Il-sung, flying in imagination and turning pine cones into bullets and grenades while fighting Japan in World War II, and his base of operations against Japanese forces was Mount Paektu, which was used to deify him. His descendants are called the "Paektu Dynasty," and North Korean propaganda claims that bright stars filled the sky when his son Kim Jong Il was born on Paektu Mountain.

During the 1970s, North Korea was more economically prosperous than South Korea, which allowed Kim Il Sung some stability, but propaganda rarely showed images of subsequent economic turmoil in North Korea, if any, when the regime was teetering on the verge of collapse in the early 1990s, near From the end of his reign, propaganda claimed that Kim Il Sung could control the weather, but there is little evidence that he was able to do much to improve the situation in the country through his policies.

Roast potatoes

There is no record that his son, Kim Jong-il, is touring areas hit hard by floods and famine after he took power in 1994. North Korean state media did not provide full reports on the crises, and instead released photos of Kim Jong. Elle roasting potatoes with his buddies over a campfire.

In the face of economic difficulties, Kim Jong-il avoided the collapse of the regime by negotiating economic aid from the United States and South Korea in exchange for his promise to denuclearize, even though Pyongyang secretly continued to enrich uranium and sell weapons to the Middle East.

In his early years in power, Kim Jong Un immersed himself in creating family myths. Textbooks in North Korea claimed that he could drive a car at the age of three and won a yachting race at the age of nine, but on orders from Kim, the main North Korean newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, recognized in May, that Kim does not have the strength to rise, and the same month the newspaper argued in its editorial that the propaganda now should be more realistic.

Kim has made changes to the way families are photographed, at a time when information has become available to all people of the world, and after the use of cell phones and cross-border smuggling have become commonplace, and many North Koreans secretly communicate with families who have fled to the South.

Meanwhile, the North Korean leader placed himself in a different position from his predecessors. He met the US President, Donald Trump, three times, and according to his claim, North Korea completed its nuclear program more than two years ago. It is a point he mentions a lot, including a speech he gave in July, Kim says: "Thanks to reliable and effective nuclear deterrence for self-defense, the word war no longer exists on this earth, and this will guarantee the security and future of our country forever."

One thing is for sure

"One thing is for sure," said former South Korean National Security Official, Chun Seung-won, commenting: "North Korea during the reign of Kim Jong Un stopped portraying its leader as a god, and that he can tolerate that." During his visit to the flood-affected areas, In August, Kim told his people that economic growth plans had encountered "unexpected perversions and shortcomings", promising a new five-year plan by early next year.

North Korea watchers say Kim appears to be trying to portray himself as a leader closely related to ordinary citizens, and also part of the larger drive to build a government that relies less on the so-called divinity of the Kim family.

Since taking power in 2011, Kim has reinstated the nation’s governing body assemblies, which were largely suspended under his father, and more recently has delegated specific policies and sectors to advisers, including his younger sister, Kim Yoo Jong, as a way to share responsibilities, experts believe. North Korea.

North Korea, for a large part of its history, hid behind the holiness of the Kim family and dealt with internal crises completely differently.

Kim has made changes to the way families are photographed at a time when information has become available to all people of the world, and after the use of cell phones and cross-border smuggling have become commonplace, and many North Koreans secretly communicate with families who have fled to the South.

During his early years in power, Kim Jong Un plunged into the making of family myths, and textbooks in North Korea claim that he could drive a car at the age of three and win a yachting race at nine.

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