With the recent death of the despotic ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, and
his son Kim Jong Un taking over, the parallel to Kim Jong Il’s ascendancy
from his father Kim Il Sung is apparent.
Seven years ago, the book Great Leader, Dear Leader
(ISBN 974-9575-69-5) and written by Bertil Lintner, was published (Silkworm
Books). With the current political situation in North Korea looking just as
hazardous, if not more, I thought it was apt to publish my review of
Great Leader, Dear Leader, Demystifying North Korea under the Kim Clan.
At that time, a defense analyst with the Center for
Strategic and International Studies said, “North Korea is quite capable of
responding to any kind of military action that we take with a devastating
attack, an artillery and missile barrage on the South that would inflict
millions of deaths and casualties.”
In his introduction, Lintner writes, “The North Korean
regime has always been perceived by Western - and even Asian - politicians,
diplomats and scholars as unpredictable and inscrutable.” It is from that
stance, that the book is written.
The first chapter is enthralling, as author Lintner
describes the historic summit meeting between the leaders of North and South
Korea in 2000, but then goes on to lay open the financial scandals that
followed. Lintner uses the well proven principle called ‘follow the money’
to find the truth. And the truth proves quite capable of leaving some fairly
muddied waters on both side of Korea’s DMZ.
He delves into the history of the leader and his son, and
again any questioner is presented with legend, folklore, propaganda and
fact, all of which requires much deduction. “It is also extremely difficult
to separate fact from fantasy and propaganda - both northern and southern -
with respect to Kim Il Sung’s past,” writes Lintner. That Kim Il Sung was a
guerilla fighter is not doubted at any stage, the differences between his
lifestyle and that of his son and current leader of North Korea, Kim Jong
Il, is explored, even if just to show the blind faith of his followers.
How North Korea became a nuclear power, and allied with
others is also demonstrated by ‘following the money’ and it is a chilling
As befits any resource material, the book also features a
chronology of important dates from 1910, a Who’s Who, Notes from the copious
annotations throughout the book and a detailed Bibliography. This is not a
novel. This is a serious factual publication.
Lintner takes the reader on a true literary voyage of
discovery on a subject that not many of us have had the opportunity to
explore, and does it in a very readable fashion.
It is important in the overall scheme of global overviews
that we have some reasonably credible, factual building blocks, and not
biased propaganda. I believe Bertil Lintner eschews propaganda, and has
presented the real facts to my satisfaction.
You can make your own decision after visiting any
bookstore that stocks better quality books. A ‘must read’ for any Asiaphile.
Otherwise it is in stock via Amazon. And a very informative read.