BBC yesterday used the above image of Kim Jong-un, northern Korea’s supreme leader. The post on BBC’s magazine monitor is funny as it exposes Kim’s obsession about being important, much like his grandfather. In the fifties, grandpa Kim Il-sung would issue on-spot guidance and his people would take notes, then execute it. BBC’s reporter makes fun of people around the young Kim still doing so today, all on identical notepads.
True, maybe they need iPads. But that point only just barely scratches the surface.
What Kim Jong-un is up to is building his personality cult. Very little was done for him by his father, although Jong-un had been declared successor already two years prior to his father’s demise.
In modern times, and specifically in Communist nations, the art of building a personality cult was maybe best conducted by Stalin. Others too have used means of mass communication to popularise themselves extensively. But none have been reprimanded so heavily as Stalin by Krushchev. In fact, in Kruschev’s address to the 20th Party Congress, we find repudiation not only to Stalin building a personality cult, but to a whole array of grievances to Marxist teachings. This includes repression of the collective leadership.
Korea is under its third generation of Kim, and Jong-un’s father: Jong-il, had been cast as a deity. The official biography has his birth announced by a swallow and the event greeted by a double rainbow. The reporting of his death in 2011 has a fierce snow storm pause and the sky glow red. His word was final, and any deviation was considered as a sign of disloyalty. After his death, he was proclaimed Dae Wonsu (a title only afforded by Jung-un’s grandfather, and which means Grand Marshal).
It is not the iPad in the hands of people taking notes which is missing, then. It is what the iPad represents in a modern society. The “i” stands for internet, individual, instruct, inform and inspire, said Steve Jobs in the 1998 launch of the iMac. All of these are powerful tools for a modern society which Jong-un can aspire to progress if he truly is to be the personality that his land needs in 2014. The policies of openness and transparency, termed Glasnost by Gorbachev, brought about the start of a collapse of a frightful era for Europe and the world. That process, more than twenty-five years later, is still ongoing. Is Kim ready?