A South Korean Perspective on The North’s “Leadership Succession”: “Korean Revolution Continues!”

Great Legacy of Kim Jong Il


To look back the mid-1990s, President Kim Il Sung of thenorth Korea passed away. Broadcasts of world mass media covered the globe: The world has lost the greatest veteran statesman; The earth has become light; There may be a change of line innorth Korea.

Then a “volcano” erupted, shaking the planet. The “lava” was the will of Kim Jong Il, “Don’t expect any change from me.” Instead of change, there was a unique “change.” Kim Jong Il did not take the road of assuming the top positions of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the state.

He ensured that the history of President’s career was continued in DPRK: the position of president was abolished; the Constitution was renamed Kim Il Sung Constitution; the office building of Kim Il Sung was laid out as the supreme sanctuary of Juche; the Juche era was instituted with 1912, the year when President was born, as the first year.



What did not change were his great ideas and his parental affection. People of the north keenly felt that the father of their nation would always be with them.

In those days words most impressive on this planet were etched in the annals of mankind: “Let all of us work energetically, single-mindedly and with one purpose to make our country, our motherland, ever more prosperous as befits the soldiers and devoted followers of the great leader.”

This was a letter Kim Jong Il sent to all the people of the north on New Year’s Day 1995, the first year they greeted after losing their President. The sincerity, which was neither a commitment nor honeyed words aimed at winning political support, at once plucked people’s heartstrings.

The letter made it clear that defending the President’s ideas and achievements and implementing his behests was Kim Jong Il’s aim, his political mainstay. Wasn’t this the magical strength that induced “change,” which does not change?

Kim Jong Il apparently forgot himself from the first days of his political career. His career was part of the great career of President, and this much the world knows.

To watch the activities of Kim Jong Un, who is the successor to Kim Jong Il and much mentioned by world mass media now, the meaning of the words of the people of the north that their current supreme leader is “quite identical” with Kim Il Sung becomes more fresh. That the history of Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s career still continues in the north is demonstrated by the political calendar of Kim Jong Un.

The world should extend gratitude to Kim Jong Un for continuing in the era of immortality of his predecessors and proving that a country guided by a true ideology does not collapse. Karl Marx opined that the most wonderful and beautiful is the inheritance of spirit. It is a source of pride of mankind to have [another great successor] such as Kim Jong Un.

“Green Light” on the Korean Peninsula

Every Korean remembers 1905 and 2005, the years symbolic of national humiliation and national self-respect, respectively. The editorial “Wail All Day over the Nation’s Ruin,” carried by a newspaper, giving vent to the grudge of the colonized nation against the forced conclusion of the Ulsa Five-Point Treaty by the Japanese imperialists in 1905, and a statement of the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2005, declaring that the north had possessed nuclear deterrents, testify to the factor of the qualitative change of a nation.

The factor was the Songun [military-first] idea. President Kim Il Sung, determined to win back his lost country from the Japanese imperialists, clarified in the mid-1920s the road of Juche which his country should take, and formed armed ranks on the basis of the Songun idea, or a do-or-die will of anti-imperialist independence and philosophy of continuous revolution, heralding the victory of the Songun revolution.

During the long period of two revolutionary wars, two rounds of post-war reconstruction and two stages of social revolution, the north always emerged victorious, and has successfully, promoted socialist construction based on the Songun idea.

In the “Arduous march” period of the 1990s, its people learned more deeply the truth of Songun. After the death of President, the imperialist reactionary forces denied the north’s access to the international market and checked its commercial transactions with other countries, claiming that its collapse was a matter of time; worse still, they brought pressure to bear upon it by staging joint war games every year. And natural calamities hit it for several consecutive years. The country was at the crossroads.

At this juncture, Kim Jong Il defended the country, the revolution and socialism by dint of Songun politics, an inheritance of President’s Songun idea. Thus, the north came to display the dignity of the nation to the full, laying firm foundations for the building of a thriving country and possessing nuclear deterrents. The north was not a second Iraq, and no one could crumble its “fortress” built by force of Songun.

Songun did not bring benefits to the north alone; could the authorities of the south live up to their “commitment of 747” in the flames of war? Could any one be absorbed in learning and bring up his or her children peacefully when bombs explode? The south can never deny the fact that it lives under the umbrella of the defense capabilities the north built up by tightening its belt.

Every one, if he or she is a member of the Korean nation, should be aware of the fact that the “fire arrow” targeted at the Korean peninsula has always been checked by Songun and that the ideal of By Our Nation Itself, an “absolute formula” for reunifying the country by transcending differences in ideas and systems, originated in the idea of love for the nation and people cherished by the brilliant commander of the Songun revolution.

The “green light” on the Korean peninsula is still on thanks to  Kim Jong Un, who has inherited the cause of Kim Jong Il.

An Eternal “Croesus”

What was the basis of Kim Jong Il’s calculation that went beyond the general economic law? The answer will give one a glimpse of the personalities of Kim Jong Il.

His theory was Juche-oriented political economy. From the days when he was studying at Kim Il Sung University, he viewed the economic phenomena and development not with the theories of labor and surplus value at the center, but with the masses’ demands for and interests in independence at the center, and defined that the economic phenomena and development are a process of creative activities of the masses.

Proceeding from this, he was convinced that whatever was undertaken, it must bring benefits to people even if it may incur loss to the state. His insistence that the state and its leader should exist for the sake of the people gave birth to the slogan “We Serve the People,” widespread in the north and the rule of calculating the benefits people would enjoy.

The question Kim Jong Il often asked to his officials, “Do people like it?” denotes the focus, ways and result of such calculation. He once put to rights officials’ deviation of making little investment to producing some consumer goods for their high production costs, and another time said that whether a product was good or not should be decided by people, its “users.”

His instruction he left at the Kwangbok Area Supermarket two days before his death was about the benefits people would enjoy. The goods stockpiled and Kim Jong Il went over with the feeling of love for people–how can any high-end goods of the world be compared to them? And had any other statesman in the world said in this way?

No and none. It was an expression of the sincerity of the people’s father, who embraced them all and was always anxious of their living. When they finally manufactured a CNC-applied medical instrument, a special task Kim Jong Il had given them, the producers named it “Affection for People” as its trademark.

Now, we go to see his private calculation. Most of the statesmen in the world leave villas and bank accounts with astronomical sums of money during their stints.

However, Kim Jong Il left nothing. Even the tonics people sent him apprehensive of his health, he sent them to war veterans. Nearly 39 900 pieces of gifts foreigners of more than 170 countries presented to him are all on display in the International Friendship Exhibition House on Mt. Myohyang. He felt satisfied with a bed, on which he could have a moment of sleep when tired, and food enough to allay his hunger.

This is one of the reasons why people believed only in him. Though he left nothing for himself, he still has countless sons and daughters, a nation that would be prosperous generation after generation. Isn’t this man an eternal “Croesus”?

Philosophy of “White Snow”

The people and mass media of the north compare Kim Jong Il’s career to “snow,” and recall in tears his philosophy of “white snow,” the crystallization of his life full of delights and sorrow.

Kim Jong Il and white snow were deeply associated with each other. The place he was born is situated on Mt. Paektu, the highest mountain in DPRK with the heaviest snowfall. At the time, when the anti-Japanese revolution was at its height, he was born as the son of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Suk, guerrilla generals, who struck the one-million-strong Japanese Kwantung Army with terror. The first natural scenery mirrored in his eyes was snowscape.

Seeing his parents entering his native house as they were wiping snow off their military uniform smelling of gunpowder and thinking about the fighters who breathed their last shedding blood on the white snow, his world of white snow must have begun to take its form. The white snow, which carries all the tales of Paektu and brings spring to the frozen hand, was, before being a wonder of nature, a “philosophy” of devotion for Kim Jong Il.

His philosophy of “white snow” reflects his will to devote his all to the bringing of the spring of a thriving country to Kim Il Sung’s Korea. This philosophy, a discipline whose fundamental principle is self-sacrifice, was an outlook on the world cherished by the great man, worthy of special note in the history of human philosophy.

I still vividly remember the day when I was taken surprise by an article carried in a newspaper of the north. One winter day Kim Jong Il boarded a speedboat. Officials tried to dissuade him from making a trip on the high waves. But he could not wait for fair weather as he thought that his soldiers were waiting for him, their Supreme Commander.

On the boats tossed by huge waves, his entourage could not keep their balance, and cameramen failed to record the historic voyage as they lost grip of their cameras. The speedboats arrived at the destined island safely and officials thought as if they were still in a dream. At that time Kim Jong Il helped them disembark, saying with a smile that the sea was more impressive than he had expected.

His career was filled with such unheard-of, self-sacrificing moments, and the thriving country–a spring of his philosophy of “white snow” would bring–should be called a “monument to Kim Jong Il.”

Letters and Replies

How many letters V.I. Lenin wrote in his lifetime is widely known across the world.

However, Kim Jong Il received thousands of letters every month. Those who wrote to him included people from all walks of life. In their letters they confided to him their inmost feelings, even their private thoughts.

Some wrote about their family matters, their dreams, and their wishes. Children sent him letters enclosed with their calligraphic works or songs and lyrics of their own composing.

Some people wrote their delight in having moved to new houses. A family wrote to him that all its members had become soldiers. Some girls in Pyongyang wrote that they had married officers serving on the front line.

One wrote to him before breathing his last. Part of the letter reads, “Please allow me to ask you to bring up my offspring and take care of them as their political guardian so that they would remain faithful to the Party and the revolution.”

The time allotted to him for reading such letters was dawn. After dealing with the piled-up documents related with state affairs, at dawn when all others were asleep Kim Jong Il would immerse himself in feeling the pride in being their leader and reading what they had to say.

He would write his replies in a few words on the spot like thank you, become an excellent scientist in the future. But the short replies were treasured by their recipients. The point is that the congratulations, encouragement, blessing and call by the man whom they trusted produced an unconditional reflection, or “obligation.” The depth of obligation could not be measured even by the unit of nanometer, for its core was “unto death.”

This was proved by the last moment of 17 soldiers (including girls), who, though nobody told them to do so, dedicated their lives in defense of revolutionary relics from a forest fire.

Getting aware of people’s feelings and resolving their problems was a matter of urgency for leader, and people were ready to dedicate their lives if it was for their leader. This relationship between a leader and his people cannot be found in other countries than the north.

This should be viewed as a support to the north as the center of gravity is to the earth.


A Word He Was Ignorant of All His Life

Kim Jong Il was the one and only head of state ignorant of the word “weekend.” The thought that he must work more forcefully, different from the general logic that one should relieve oneself of one’s fatigue, was the brake on his taking rest.

The reason was that if he took rest, the development of his country would slow down as much.

The time he scheduled himself to work was from dawn to dawn, and the range of his work covered the whole of his country where people lived– army units, factories, farms, and even educational and scientific research institutions.

What he needed absolutely was time. His birth anniversaries were no exception.

On February 16 of one year, events were held in Pyongyang. For his birth anniversary, the events were so small in scale, not attracting wide press coverage.

For people’s rest on the day, he cancelled national events, and he himself went to a far-away region to deal with state affairs there. He had no birthday spread prepared for himself.

Apparently, it was a reflection of his determination not to put anything before the realization of people’s happiness.

During his childhood, he composed a poem, titled, “Can’t a Second Be an Hour?” The poem reflects his concern for the health of President Kim Il Sung, who was working day and night as the father of the country before being the head of a family. Time passed, and when the people of the north were reciting the poem wishing him good health, Kim Jong Il must have wished if a second of the time, when the building of a thriving country was a matter of urgency, could be an hour.

In the days of the “Arduous March,” when he, as the leader of Kim Il Sung’s Korea, had to rouse people, he raced against time staying in train, taking rice-balls and catnapping. The source of his life was the will to implement President’s instructions at an earlier date and the people who were living with their trust in him.

Watching the people of the north grieving over his death and crying why he had not taken full rest even once, the world got to know that he had worked heart and soul without taking rest during his entire political career. Can the people of the north see without tears the “people-bound train,” symbolic of his career, and take “rest” without hesitation?


The wind of breaking through the cutting edge in the north is shaking the world. Some countries are suspicious of it; others are envious. Before the world’s applause for its successful launch of two man-made satellites Kwangmyongsong-1 and Kwangmyongsong-2 and underground nuclear test subsided, the north developed CNC technology and geothermal energy, succeeded in nuclear fusion and is now taking the road of introducing automation in production.

What is the origin of this wind? It is none other than the desire of  Kim Jong Il. It was never his improvisation. That he had nurtured in his mind the justifiable reason of national self-respect is now being proved by the production of CNC-applied machine tools one after another. I am not going too far when I compare the relationship between his national self-respect and CNC to the effect of reaction to action.

To be candid, what got on his nerves in the days when he was assisting Kim Il Sung in the latter’s work, as well as in the days after the President’s death were the sanctions and blockade imposed by imperialists. Kim Jong Il reacted to this action with a greater force.

When nuclear inspection was imposed on the north, it declared its withdrawal from the NPT; when the timetable of its “collapse” was prevalent, it tightened its belt and launched a man-made satellite; when the imperialist pressure became more undisguised, it possessed nuclear deterrents for self-defense. They were all imperative reactions.

The north is now dashing at exponential speed toward the milestone of the era of knowledge-based economy indicated by  Kim Jong Il. It is unpredictable in which sector and to which degree the north’s competence in the cutting-edge technology would explode in the near future.

The greatest guarantee for its success is that Kim Jong Il’s brilliant wisdom has kindled flames in the hearts of millions of intellectuals and other working people in the north, who are faithful to him.

To view the progress of the era of knowledge-based economy unprecedented in the rest of the world, one can be sure that they will emerge victorious.

Kim Jong Il consolidated the [motivating] power of the knowledge-based economy by drawing on socialist society, not on capital that pursues profit, thus assuring eternal viability of the era of knowledge-based economy.

What kind of impact the world would feel when this comes true? The destination, the carrying out of the revolution in the knowledge-based economy led by Kim Jong Un, is sure to be a socialist power driven by the knowledge-based economy.

Silent “Messages”

Kim Jong Il was the first statesman in the world in moving people’s hearts without delivering a vocal speech to the people in his career. Its possibility is astounding.

However, the people in the north read his innermost mind. That he moved the public sentiment as he wished for scores of years by means of on-site guidance is why his traces became his “messages.”

“Forced march in the hottest period of summer,” “super-intensity forced march,” “forced march in the dead of night,” “forced march in snowstorm” and “forced march for knowledge-based economy,” which the people in the north often recollect still now, mirror the self-sacrificing life of Kim Jong Il, who led them in the cause of building a thriving country while living in people’s minds all the year round and transmitting his intentions to them.

The main content of his silent “messages” was his yearning for President Kim Il Sung. Calling at the places which Kim Il Sung had visited, he reminded people, who were yearning for President, of the latter’s intentions and encouraged them to further efforts. This was a piece of political news unheard of in the world.

He felt the worth of his devotion in seeing people work heart and soul to implement President’s behests. When a vinalon factory, which had been in standstill for several years, resumed production, he went to it and said he would take the vinalon cotton to Kim Il Sung in the Kumsusan Memorial Palace.

The silent “messages” were a fountain of sustenance that brought up all people to be persons of merit in their era. Those who met   Kim Jong Il and those whose units were visited by him were attracted to his view of people in spite of themselves.

Sharing good times and bad with them, he made their dreams and wishes come true, instilled in them wisdom and passion, took a meal as a commendation together with the military officers who had taken good care of the life of their men, and it is quite natural that they were resolved to repay his solicitude.

Those who once met him regarded the moment as the climax of their life, and people yearned to see him everyday. This is the unfathomable attraction of his silent “messages.”

That absolute trust cannot be won by means of coercion and pressure through organizations or other political entities or by means of money is an answer to history given by Kim Jong Il’s style of on-site guidance. People’s trust in Kim Jong Il can never be demolished by gun, A-bomb or even by smear campaign.

Clothes in Eternal Fashion

Fashion had nothing whatsoever to do with Kim Jong Il. Johann Goethe once said that nothing is more dreadful than meaningless fashion. Amidst world fashion as whimsical as a child, Kim Jong Il did not shackle himself to the diplomatic conventions even though he was head of state; he always wore simple and convenient clothes–jumper or padded clothes.

His unusually unceremonious taste of fashion had been in limelight for long, and the doubt was cleared up after his death.

The jumper was the clothes he had worn with a determination to devote his all to the good of the people in place of President Kim Il Sung, who was still on his way for on-site guidance though advanced in age; the padded clothes was the clothes he had worn braving the arduous winters of 17 years after President’s passing.

These clothes, symbolic of the history of his Songun-based revolutionary leadership, draw the attention of the world, along with his beaming image.

Jumper perfectly suits my temperament; whoever may say what, but I love my taste, aptitude and fashion.

To think what these words of his meant, it can be said that his jumper was most agreeable with his racing towards time to build a thriving country. The jumper must have been the string of his shoes to his mind. If not, how could the jumper be his formal as well as informal wear and be loved by him, who led the turbulent world political current?

The people of the north are fond of his taste, aptitude and fashion. The jumper, which was in fashion for long among them, cadres or youths, will serve as “spiritual strings” through generations who will see the beaming image of Kim Jong Il still in jumper.

When the “June 15 syndrome” was getting up, the students and office workers in the south, after watching his attire on the Internet, followed his fashion. They were approaching his world step by step, feeling his aptitude. The fashion that could be seen in political strikes and candle-lit demonstrations, I cannot forget forever.

“Politics of Music”

I would be going too far to comment on Kim Jong Il’s view of music with my poor knowledge, but I cannot help but do it as music was an essential part of his great career.

Kim Jong Il regarded music as his love before being a means of politics. He talked with music and expressed his opinions by means of music. From his childhood, he was well-versed in melody creation, harmony and musical arrangement.

If one listens to “My Mother,” “O Korea, I Will Add Glory to Thee,” and “I Will Carry On The March Started from Mt. Paektu,” works created by Kim Jong Il in person, one will learn that he had the first meeting with politics through melody.

As man is acquainted with the features of nature through seasons, the people of the north got acquainted with Kim Jong Il’s world of music before they knew.

For whom and for what is music needed? It becomes an art when people enjoy it. It should not become an art that demonstrates the skills of a few experts. This was the essence of the view of music Kim Jong Il maintained throughout the long period of guiding the work of art and literature of the country. Thousands of art and literary works based on this view were created in the north.

Kim Jong Il put music into use as a powerful means of politics. When leading the building of a thriving nation in the van of the “Arduous March” and forced march, he would have the State Merited Chorus encourage people by means of songs.

“Where Are You, Dear General,” “The Blue Sky over My Country,” “The Country I am Defending,” “For My Only Motherland” and others sung by the Chorus served as the propellant of the spiritual strength of the people who turned out to defend socialism of their country.

This proves why the Chorus is the bugler of the Supreme Headquarters and its songs have the power of a volley fire of a rocket system. Based on the seeds Kim Jong Il provided them, composers of the north created many musical works, inspiring people to further efforts. Kim Jong Il conveyed his inmost thoughts to people by means of music.

The mental depth of north Korean people cannot be seen separated from the musical depth of Kim Jong Il.



An “Immortal” Man

There has been no country, where the entire population shed tears of blood and mourned for ten days and ten nights the passing of their leader. DPRK is a mysterious country. It shows the immortality of a great man by means of tears.

This was what mankind, transcending differences in skin colors and political views, commented on the national funeral in the north in December 2011.

Indeed, the tears were blood shed by the children over the passing of their father. When they heard the news that Kim Jong Il, who would go unnoticed to them to appreciate their feats and fruits of labor, to satisfy their desires to bring delight to him, had died on a train bound to them, they shed tears and blood.

Disciplined as they had been in ordinary times, they blocked the procession of the funeral motorcade, saying, “Let’s make the Generals’ heart beat again by donating our hearts.” This was a reproduction of the legend of the immortality of President 17 years previously.

The world also witnessed the tears transforming into unity, obligation and enthusiasm. To those, who had been expecting its collapse and who had already formulated a scenario to pick out the “thorn in their side,” the north did not give any chance. The people of the north struck them with dread by rising up as one to implement Kim Jong Il’s instructions.

Thump, thump, thump, …

The sound of steps resounds. Kim Jong Un, successor to Kim Jong Il, advances, driving out all sorts of cacophony and keeping time with the beats of Kim Jong Il’s heart. People call Kim Jong Un their father, as he adds luster to the “fortress” of Songun and the “sword” and “shield” by which the country has been defended, and has got on the “people-bound train.”

Those who made this or that prediction and speculation after Kim Jong Il’s death are reminded, after seeing the image of DPRK advancing rallied more firmly behind Kim Jong Un, of the greatness of Kim Jong Il in the days when a cyber dispute was fought, and are now seeing the incarnation of noble moral obligation, who is writing the history of immortality of the leader.

Now is the time when the abstract concepts of and misjudgment on the north and the statute of limitations of the blockade and pressure against it should be reviewed.

They should be reasonable enough to agree with the fact that there are people who covered with their overcoats and headscarves the roads through which their father’s funeral motorcade would pass, saying they could not have him in the snow, and there is a country which ensures its leader’s immortality by implementing his behests.

To the people, who felt the taste of working miracles in the face of all odds, nothing is impossible. It is clear that they will effect a tremendous change in every sector based on the assets left by their father.

Some countries are proud of prosperity, others their might, and still others their time-honored history.

However, neither of them can be compared to the north, where the heaven-sent, great men, who transformed the people of their country into pure, prototypal human beings, lives forever.


Dr. Shim Ho Myong, A Professor from South Korea

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