Kim Il Sung by Scott Ingram is a juvenile biography of the Great Leader. I was interested to see what a short, 112-page book about Kim would be like, if not for the subject matter alone but for the name of the series this biography falls under: “History’s Villains”. I could not wait to find out what sort of bias the author would be poisoned by in portraying the life of the Great Leader to children.
One could make a valid point that the history of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is intimately intertwined with the life of Kim Il Sung. This biography, however, reads more like a brief history of the Korean peninsula in the last one hundred years, and sheds little light on the life of the man himself. Kim Il Sung is a book for children, yet it contains several horrific paragraphs on atrocities committed by North Korean soldiers which had me wincing and writhing in my seat. Ingram drives the point throughout the book that Kim alone was responsible for his country’s economic downfall, although he does credit Kim for the DPRK’s economic boom as well, since up until the 1960’s North Korea was more prosperous than the South.
The children’s series “History’s Villains” also contains biographies on Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Idi Amin. The inclusion of Kim Il Sung in this series smacks of George W. Bush Axis of Evil paranoic hysteria. I can’t imagine that any American child would go into a library in search of a book about Kim Il Sung. For that matter I have no idea why our library purchased this book in the first place.
Can you imagine what I would be up against if I attempted to bring this book into North Korea? The authorities wouldn’t just confiscate the book. I would be sent to prison without hesitation.