The Sun of Korea

I picked up The Sun of Korea by Jose Francisco Aguilar Bulgarelli when I was in the DPRK in 2011. It was originally written in Spanish in 1982 to commemorate the seventieth birthday of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung. In the editor’s note at the beginning of the book the author is alleged to be the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Latin American Institute of the Juche Idea as well as the director of the Board of the International Institute of the Juche Idea, which I believe to be two bogus institutions. I personally do not believe there are any such institutes devoted to the North Korean political philosophy of Juche anywhere in the world, not even among sympathetic socialist countries. This book is, no surprise, quite similar to the North Korean books I had brought home in that it praises the Great Leader Kim Il Sung and promotes his successor the Dear Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il. However it differs in that I found it, unfortunately, quite boring in that it was low on the gushing praise of weeping Koreans and the deus ex machina actions of both Kims. So perhaps it really was written by the stated Costa Rican author and not by the authorities at the Foreign Languages Publishing House in Pyongyang.

The Sun of Korea was high on political rhetoric (what else) with plenty of political statements yet nothing to back them up. The same statements were made about the “correct” policies applied by the Great Leader Kim Il Sung, but nothing explaining what those policies were. The intention is for the reader to accept what the Great Leader does without question, knowing that whatever he does is assured to be “correct”. We learn of the early years of the Great Leader and his role in liberating Korea from the Japanese imperialists, stories that are told in every book made available to foreigners.

Some of the words in this translation were inappropriate, even for the early 1980’s. One cannot help but laugh at such fifties terminology as “flunkeyism”. In a description of the Dear Leader Comrade General Kim Jong Il, the translator wrote:

“With his refulgent wisdom he gained a deep understanding of the Juche idea and made important contributions to it.”

I think the translator could have found another word in the thesaurus instead of “refulgent”, yet “radiating” does seem to be overused in these texts as it is. Although a mere 71 pages, The Sun of Korea was not a quick read. The translation was fine, but the contents were repetitive while revealing nothing. I soon got the feeling that my experience reading this book was going to be an exercise merely in turning pages.

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