North Korea 1945 – Present Day / The Korean War 1950-1953
Kim Il-sung 1912-1994 / Kim Jong-il 1941-2011 / Kim Jong-un 1983 – ?
Continued from Part One: The Origins of North Korea
Previously on Epik Fails of History: I explained the unfortunate backstory of the Koreas – the Mongol Invasions, the Japanese Occupation, its’ division, and the war that followed…
You see, Korea was split into North and South, with the North going communist and the South embracing democracy, the result of which was very similar to what happened in “The Dark Crystal” with the wise Mystics and the evil Skeksis, each side becoming two opposing forces of the same coin. While South Korea embraced its freedom and grew to become one of the most prosperous nations in the modern world, the totalitarian regime of North Korea is ranked lower than most third world countries in almost every aspect.
Now let’s delve into a baffling tale about the dynasty of dictators behind the current oppressive regime known as North Korea…
KIM IL-SUNG – “THE ETERNAL PRESIDENT”
When North Korea was officially established in 1948 as “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, Kim Il-Sung was sworn in as it’s Prime Minister. From the start, unlike the progressive democracy of South Korea, the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea was anything but democratic. Inspired by stellar role models like Stalin and Mao Zedong, Kim Il-Sung created a cult of personality, formed around… himself.
President in name only, Kim Il-Sung was a dictator, pure and simple. And what dictatorship would be complete without an endless onslaught of brainwashing propaganda? According to North Korea’s version of history, Kim single-handedly led guerrilla-warriors against the Japanese occupation and won World War II. In reality, his family had actually been exiled to Soviet Russia for the duration of the conflict, oh and it was the United States that beat Japan and lifted the Korean occupation.
Soon after becoming the Premiere of the DPRK, Kim invaded South Korea without provocation. This failed conquest backfired spectacularly, leading directly to a little skirmish known as THE KOREAN WAR, only one of the bloodiest wars in all of human history. Even so, the leaders of the country somehow blame ‘the American imperialist pigs’ for the war and still hold a grudge to this day.
Korea had a long history of being used and abused by foreign powers (see Part One), so naturally they were hesitant to trust again. At every turn, Il-Sung severed relations with his allies out of paranoia over once again being taken advantage of and his people paid the price for it. Over the following decades, the little country’s economy completely imploded as the Soviet Union dissolved leading to widespread poverty and famine. In light of their desperate condition, Kim Il-Sung refused outside aid on numerous occasions and instead blindly focused on a stubborn national policy of self reliance that cost the lives of countless families who were not given the food and medicine they needed. Kim Il-Sung gave zero fucks.
Instead of helping his people, Kim spent all of his country’s resources on beefing up their military and nuclear weapons research in the mad hope that one day they’d be able to take on the rest of the known world. Throughout his reign, he oversaw at least one million deaths through labor camps and executions. In an effort to fool the South into believing that the North was more prosperous, he had an entire fake propaganda city built on the border, Kijong-Dong, an empty hollow city just for show. During his life, Il-Sung authored an eight-part autobiography, a 100 volume collection of books, and nearly 11,000 speeches, all of which are still required reading.
Despite his apparent god-hood, Kim Il-Sung died suddenly in 1994 from a very human heart attack. The entire country mourned in the streets, presumably out of fear for not appearing loyal. His body was preserved under a glass coffin, in a mausoleum for all to see for years to come. Today, over 20 years since his death, “The Eternal President” is worshiped as a god. There are 34,000 statues of him, North Korean students spend most of their time learning about his ‘great deeds’, the calendar was renumbered starting with the year he was born, and his birthday is the nation’s biggest holiday.
KIM JONG-IL – “THE DEAR LEADER”
When Kim Il-Sung passed away, his son, Kim Jong-Il, became the first communist leader to inherit the position. Although he had taken his father’s place, he was never officially called ‘President’, since that position still technically belongs to his deceased dad. Kim Jr. took his father’s propaganda machine to a whole new low. If the North Korean media is to be believed, than Chuck Norris better watch out…
According to official North Korean ‘records’, when Kim Jong-Il was born on Mount Paektu under a double rainbow, winter turned to spring. In reality, Kim Jong-Il was born in the Soviet Union with no rainbows in sight… and it was very much winter.
His ‘official biography’ claims that Kim learned to walk at three weeks and how to talk at eight. It is said that the first time Kim Jong-Il bowled, he scored a perfect 300, likewise, he scored five hole-in-ones the first time he touched a golf club, after which he immediately retired from the sport. According to North Koreans, Kim Jong-Il invented the hamburger, or as they call it ‘double bread with meat’. Oh and he can control the weather with his moods.
But of all the many weird myths surrounding Kim Jong-Il, by far the strangest would have to be the “fact” that he couldn’t defecate… as in he simply didn’t produce fecal matter… Hold up – The guy couldn’t take a crap?!
So either: A. He had some SERIOUS constipation issues, or… B. He was just full of shit.
In reality, Kim Jong-Il wore platform shoes to make himself appear taller, had a phobia of flying, and enjoyed musicals. Even though Jong-Il publicly denounced the west to the extent that foreign imports were illegal, behind closed doors he actually had quite the obsession with Western luxuries. You see, while his people suffered in abject poverty, their ‘Dear Leader’ shipped in truck loads of lobster and caviar, which he then washed down with gallons of French Brandy a year (Hennessy cognac to be exact).
In an effort to solve his country’s stark food shortage, Kim Jong-Il attempted to breed a large species of rabbit, he even imported 12 large rabbits from Germany… which he then served at his birthday banquet instead. If that’s not gut-wrenching enough though, Kim Jr also had a $20 million collection of Mercedes-Benz sports cars which he had amassed through the use of a humanitarian relief fund!
Kim Jong-Il, being a huge film buff, decided he wanted to build up the North Korean film industry, so in 1978 he ordered the kidnapping of a famous South Korean director (Shi Sang-ok) and his actress wife, (Choi Eun-hee) because why not? The couple was forced to make seven movies at gun point, including a communist rip-off version of Godzilla called “Pulgasari”, before managing to escape in 1986. Kim then went on to write a book called “On the Art of Cinema”. He later produced a 100 part documentary series on the “history” of the homeland… which is required viewing and is probably one of the primary motivations for risking one’s life crossing the DMZ.
Under Kim Jong-Il, suppression took on a whole new meaning. Cell phones were banned, accessing the internet was illegal, Christianity became a capitol crime, and even watching a foreign film was considered high treason, leading to the public arrest of not just you, but your entire family. Prisoners were not given a trial and were often served a life sentence. Conditions in the North Korean prison system have often been compared to the Soviet Union’s infamous gulags and in some cases worse.
In 2011, Kim Jong-Il was briefed on a power plant failure leading to a fit of rage, but before he could execute those responsible (and possibly start a nuclear war over it), the dictator suffered a massive heart attack and died. According to the ‘official’ account, when the Dear Leader passed away, “the skies glowed red above sacred Mount Paektu and the impenetrable sheet of ice at the heart of the mystical volcano cracked with a deafening roar…” In reality, most world leaders let out a sigh of relief, until they realized who was taking his place…
KIM JONG-UN – “THE GREAT SUCCESSOR”
Kim Jong-Un replaced his father (the previously mentioned Kim Jong-Il) as the Supreme Leader of The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Funny thing is, he wasn’t his dad’s first choice for the job. His older brother, Kim Jong-nam, was originally designated to succeed their father, but kinda sorta fell out of favor when he was arrested in Tokyo on his way to Disneyland on a forged passport. The other potential heir, Kim Jong-chol on the other hand was considered too “un-manly”.
Kim Jong-Un was the third choice…
Like his father and grandfather before him, most of what North Koreans know about Kim Jong-un is completely made up. In response to the sudden passing of Kim Jong-Il, propagandists hurriedly cobbled together a backstory for their new supreme leader. The North Korean media claims that Kim Jong-un is a world class composer and artistic genius who could drive at the age of 3 and raced yachts at 9. As an adult, he casually scaled the 9,000 foot peak of Mount Paektu, effortlessly, before sunset, even though his rampant obesity would probably give him problems with scaling a small staircase.
The truth is, that we don’t really know much about this young upstart of a dictator, but we do know that he attended Bern in Switzerland, under the pseudonym ‘Pak-un’ and that he flunked both math and science. We also know that he has a Swiss-cheese addiction, an irrational fear of hairstylists, and an obsession with Nike shoes. Kim the 3rd is the world’s youngest leader and the most inexperienced 4 star “General” in history, considering he never had any formal training or combat experience prior to being bestowed the title.
Kim Jong-Un may have taken over the family business of being a total dick-tater’, but as far as totalitarian ass-hats go, he’s not very good at it. For one, his people largely despise him, whereas they were brainwashed into loving his grandfather, and were loyal to his father out of fear. A big reason for North Korea’s unprecedented disdain for their latest model in the Kim dynasty is because he didn’t really earn it, like at all. A pampered brat with no practical experience, lofty goals of world domination, and total contempt for his own people’s needs. An unopposed dictator who cancels meetings with foreign leaders and instead invites former NBA all-stars to play exhibition games on his basketball court! Because priorities.
In 2013, Dennis Rodman became the first American to officially meet Kim. Rodman has visited a number of times since and for some reason considers Kim Jong-Un to be a ‘good friend’, saying that President Obama should give him a call sometime. It’s also worth pointing out that he has recently vocally endorsed Donald Trump as a Presidential candidate for the upcoming 2016 election, so maybe he’s not exactly the best judge of character. According to Col. Stephen Ganyard, “There is nobody at the CIA who could tell you more personally about Kim Jong Un than Dennis Rodman, and that in itself is scary.”
Yes, yes it is.
Kim Jong-Un also has a bad habit of executing anyone that doesn’t patronize him, including his military advisers, who often bring up legitimate concerns, like maybe it’s not such a good idea to threaten the United States and its’ allies with all out nuclear war. Which btw – he totally did.
In the DPRK’s incomprehensible ‘Deceleration of War’ against the United States, the statement denounces the evil American ‘imperialists’ and their South Korean ‘puppets’, saying that their own ‘brilliant commander’ would not hesitate to launch a ‘firepower strike’ by “the Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People’s Army”.
Despite a dozen treaties, in 2012, North Korea tested a long-range missile off the coast. It was an embarrassing failure, with the rocket blowing up mid-launch and falling to pieces over the ocean. This of course didn’t stop them from attempting to convince their people (and themselves), that it was an unparalleled ‘success’.
In 2014, when Seth Rogan and James Franco made “The Interview”, a comedy about two guys who attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the real Kim Jong-un threatened the United States once again… because they made fun of him. Many believe that the Sony Pictures cyber hacks (by an anonymous group calling themselves ‘The Guardians of Peace’) were either North Korean agents.
If you’re not already convinced that Kim Jong-Un is one crazy bastard, maybe I should mention that since coming to power in 2011, he’s executed over 70 officials, mostly for disagreeing with his crazy ass. Kim even had his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, sentenced to death! He was put before a firing squad (and / or possibly torn apart by a pack of wolves, depending on which report you read) for some trumped up charges, including: ‘crimes’ of adultery, spending foreign currency at a casino, and “dreaming alternative dreams”?! (What does that even mean?) More recently, North Korea’s defense minister, Hyon Yong-chol, allegedly dozed off during a routine military exercise. His punishment? An over-the-top execution by an ANTI-AIRCRAFT TURRET in front of hundreds of people in the middle of Pyongyang square!
NORTH KOREA TODAY
North Korea is the most isolated country in the world, so what we know about the current state of things is somewhat limited. Only a handful of reporters have actually managed to sneak in and gather footage. National Geographic correspondent, Lisa Ling, had to pose as a medical coordinator to gain access. Many defectors who managed to escape, including Jang Jin-Sung, North Korea’s former propagandist, went on to speak out about the horrors going on under the oppressive regime.
There are approx 24 million people in North Korea and it’s estimated that 1 out of 100 are in prison camps where 40% of them die of malnutrition. Those who aren’t imprisoned don’t often fare much better considering 10% of all North Korean children died of starvation in the 90’s. North Korea has a ‘military-first’ policy, with the planet’s most militarized society: 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel! Oh yeah and they also have nuclear weapons… Awesome.
So if rampant famine and oppressive dictatorships aren’t your thing, why don’t more North Koreans try to, you know, leave?
As it turns out, hundreds if not thousands have attempted to escape North Korea, with an overwhelming majority not making it due to: guard dogs, electric fences, landmines, bullets, and the very real threat that if you even attempt escape, all your friends and family will pay the price. At the Joint Security Area that cuts through the DMZ, North and South Korean guards stand at the border. The South Korean troops stand against a North incursion, while the North Korean troops also face north, guarding against their own people trying to leave.
The Korean Central News Agency is THE ONLY source of “news” in North Korea and it’s so biased and fabricated that it makes Fox News look like… well any other well balanced news outlet. A popular feature on the North Korean news network is a propaganda reel featuring Pyongyang Department Store #1, showing just how prosperous their country is: packed isles of goods throughout a multi-level shopping center, everything from beer to color TV’s, BUT here’s the weird thing: it’s all for show! People can visit the store, but nothing is for sale!
Another truly baffling feature of the capitol’s skyline is The Ryugyong Hotel. A massive, hollow, 105-story skyscraper that began construction in 1987 and halted in 1993 when the Soviet Union collapsed. It is unclear whether the monstrosity will ever be completed.
Over the last few years, there have been signs of change on the horizon. More and more North Koreans are smuggling in media from the outside world, mostly thanks to flash-drives and SD-cards. People are finally beginning to see through the deception, realizing the true state of things and for the first time questioning their government. Many think that a revolution is inevitable, that it’s just a matter of when. Until then, we should all do our part by making fun of dictators like Kim Jong-un, because they’re kind has no place in the 21st century.
Hope you enjoyed this edition of “Epik Fails of History!”, if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions let me know in the comments below! Also, be sure to ’Like’ EPiK FAILs on Facebook, or Follow on Twitter, and SHARE IT with your friends!
—– More articles on Historic Failure:
“Frontline: The Secret State of North Korea” – documentary (2014)
“National Geographic: Inside North Korea” – documentary (2006)