The religion of North Korea

One of the errors made by political pundits is the religious nomenclature given to military dictatorships around the world.

One of the most amusing errors made by political pundits is the philosophical and religious nomenclature given to military dictatorships around the world.

It’s not unusual for pundits to describe historical dictatorships like, say, Stalinist Russia, or current military dictatorships like, say, North Korea, as “atheist.” Sometimes the comparison is made with a wry smile and nod that implies, since these regimes reject religion of any kind, it’s proof positive that religion has only good effects, while rejection of religion has only bad effects.

Not true. Anyone who claims Stalinist Russia or modern North Korea are atheist or anti-religious states know scarcely anything about those regimes. Let’s look a little closer at one of them, North Korea.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea as it’s usually called, is set up to do one thing and one thing only, and that is worship. The subject of worship for the past roughly 60 years has been a  member of the Kim family, a “holy trinity” if you wish. Grandfather Kim Il-sung (the “Heavenly Leader”), son Kim Jong-il (“Supreme Leader”) and the current Kim, Jong-un (“Respected Comrade who is identical to Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il”) are referred to only in revered tones as virtually-divine personalities. Kim Il-sung, in fact, still rules the country despite the fact that he’s been dead since 1994 (other Kims only fill in for him). That’s only one of the myth-like stories surrounding members of the Kim family.

Ex-patriot writer Kang Chol-hwan noted that North Korean children are indoctrinated to see the Kim family as superhuman, or divine…as gods. “I was convinced, as we all were, that neither of them urinated or defecated. Who could imagine such things of gods?”

According to the British Museum, there are more than 500 statues of Grandfather Kim Il-sung in North Korea and he is routinely credited with single-handedly destroying the Japanese at the end of World War II. The North Korean government claims Kim Il-sung, on his first game of bowling, scored a perfect 300 and the first time he golfed, he scored five holes-in-one.

His son, Kim Jong-il, while born in Russia in 1941, is described as being born on a blessed mountain in North Korea, his birth announced by a swallow that sang in perfect Korean, that winter changed to spring the day Kim Jong-il was born, a new star was created in the sky and rainbows spontaneously appeared to herald his birth. Apparently, the heir could both walk and talk before he was only six months old.

Kim Jong-il’s charmed, divine life continued unabated. North Korean propaganda told citizens that Kim Jong-il could mentally control the weather by whatever mood struck him, similar to many religion’s “sky gods.” The DPRK also tells its citizens that current leader Kim Jong-un learned to drive automobiles at three years of age and was winning international yachting competitions at age nine.

But perhaps most telling about the religion of North Korea is the propaganda of hate. The tiny, outcast nation continually bombards its citizens with threats of attack by other nations while praising the protection of Kim Jong-un.

The International Cultic Studies Association probably puts it best in an introduction to a paper on North Korea’s state religion, which is simply veneration of its military dictators: “Moreover, (DPRK) seems to be slipping more and more toward a totalistic cult model that mirrors the behavior of groups that have, in the past, used weapons of mass destruction, murdered outsiders, and committed group suicide. By viewing North Korea not as a rational nation-state but as a religious cult, policymakers will have a better model to understand and predict North Korea’s behavior.”

Amen.

Stu Salkeld is the new editor of The Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

 

Just Posted

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official kick-off of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Team Alberta adds nine medals on day two of competition at Canada Winter Games

Team Alberta had a solid day at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

PHOTOS: Canada Games action from the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre

Wheelchair basketball, short-track speedskating draw large crowds

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Jason Kenney pledges education revamp if UCP wins power in Alberta

Kenney has said the full United Conservative platform will be rolled out during the campaign

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

‘Mitts don’t just warm hands. They warm hearts’: Mitts for Many Program launches

Donate new or lightly used mittens to bin in the Great Hall of the Gary W. Harris Centre

Most Read