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3rd-generation idol in N.Korea

Posted November. 23, 2012 05:54,   


Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the British father of empiricism, said in “Novum Organum” that people have to abandon four idols to get proper knowledge: those of the tribe, cave, market and theater. Kim Yong-ok, a contemporary Korean philosopher, defined idols as symbols of authority deep inside people. The social contract theory, which laid the foundation for liberalism, said a state is based on the contract between equal and reasonable individuals. Of course, idols were blasted by this theory.

Communism, which occupied almost half of the world via the proletariat revolution in the 20th century, was destined to have people idolize leaders. Followers of the doctrine were obsessed with the idea that they could not control society unless the people idolized something to cover the lack of legitimacy. After seeing King Tut of Egypt, Soviet Union leader Josef Stalin put the body of Vladimir Lenin, the father of the Russian Revolution, in a mausoleum in Red Square after Lenin`s death in 1924 despite opposition from Lenin`s family. Stalin, who was praised as a “genius of everything,” “great organizer,” and “our father” by the Russian Orthodox Church, tried to become an everlasting revolutionary leader by having his statues erected throughout the Soviet Union.

The first thing a visitor sees at Tiananmen Square in Beijing is a giant portrait measuring 6 by 4.6 meters. On the opposite side is the preserved body of Mao Zedong. Six kinds of bills from one to 100 yuan bear his image. The Cultural Revolution started with “One word from Mao surpasses 10,000 of our words.” The Red Guard launched a large-scale campaign to idolize the leader and drove to death many high-ranking officials who were not loyal to him.

The ruling Kim dynasty of North Korea has idolized a family beyond an individual. Pyongyang set up a 560-meter high monument with a phrase idolizing Kim Jong Un, the third leader of the communist regime. Even visible when viewed with Google Earth, the phrase says, “Kim Jong Un, the sun of a military-first country, Hurrah!” He inherited the DNA of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, who made a grenade from a cone and crossed the Daedong River on a fallen leaf, and his father Kim Jong Il, who supposedly shot 11 holes-in-one in his first 38-under par round. Plato said in his theory of the state that idols of the cave are a phenomenon in which prisoners confined to a cave mistake their shadows as the universe. When will North Koreans realize that the idols of their cave are illusions?

Editorial Writer Ha Tae-won (triplets@donga.com)