Great Leader, Dear Leader

Friday, 23 March 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 12 By  Lang Reid

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 tale.

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.

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