Kim Jong Il In His Young Days is the Dear Leader Comrade General’s official hagiography from his birth in 1942 until shortly after his graduation from Kim Il Sung University in 1964. This work, which does not credit an author, was written to highlight the revolutionary child prodigy as a natural successor to his father, the Great Leader Kim Il Sung. The younger Kim excels in primary school, leads revolutionary meetings from the age of twelve, and once he enters university, ends up teaching his own professors in the very courses he is studying.
Every chapter instils a lesson, and Kim Jong Il In His Young Days resembles more a collection of Bible stories than a biography. In this case, Kim has been substituted for Christ. Whenever Kim opens his mouth to impart his omniscience and wisdom, people are overcome with emotion. This description gets tiring at times as it comes at the end of every chapter. Their reactions seem maudlin to the point where the reader is often overcome with laughter. The people see the errors in their ways of thinking and realize that Kim Jong Il can save them from a tainted lifetime of ideological impurity.
I was surprised that this book was so poorly translated and had many spelling errors. In all the books I have read from the DPRK, I have noticed how well they are translated into English. Translations read so well, I would swear that English was the original language. In Kim Jong Il In His Young Days, sentences go on forever, with many making no grammatical sense. I had to reread several passages many times only to give up but at least having the understanding of what the anonymous author meant. In the original Korean, I have no doubt that the sentences were as long as the English translations, where phrase after phrase proclaim praise and undying love and devotion to the Dear Leader Comrade General. There is a lot of repetition in this book, with clauses simply restated within the same sentence. The most grating grammatical errors were the excessive number of hyphenated monosyllabic words. For example, at the end of a line, one sees “tow-” then at the start of the next line, the continuation “ns”.
Every DPRK child learns the official life story of their Great Leader and Dear Leader Comrade General. The stories in Kim Jong Il In His Young Days though seem entirely apocryphal as 20/20 hindsight burns through every story.