Kim Jong-il's Century

Kim Jong-il's Century

Roadside propaganda in Pyongyang. The writing up top, "21세기는 김정일게기입니다" is attributed to The Great Leader Kim Il-sung (김일성) and states that "The 21st century is Kim Jong-il's century." I'm not sure if he really said that or not, as searching for quotes from North Korean leaders in Korean isn't so easy for me. The banner message at the bottom, "21세기의 태양 김정일 장군 만세!" means "Long live the sun of the 21st century, General Kim Jong-il!"

Among the many titles given to the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il was called the "Great Sun of the 21st century." A title not dissimilar from his son and the Great Successor, Kim Jong-un when he was given the title, "the sun of the 21st century." 

Why are these leaders being called suns of the 21st century? To answer that, let's go a little further back in history. Kim Il-sung was originally born Kim Song-ju. It wasn't until his early 20s that he adopted the name Kim Il-sung, meaning, "become the sun." In North Korea, the people are taught that he is the "Sun of the Nation" and his birthday is celebrated as a national holiday called the "Day of the Sun." It's pretty much the most important day of the year, which was the reason for my visit in 2012 to North Korea - I wanted to witness the celebrations for the 100th Birthday of the Eternal Leader, Kim Il-sung. Being called the "sun" of the nation essentially makes you infallible, holds you in the same regard as Kim Il-sung, and signifies your importance in the Juche ideology as given in the "Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System." I know, that's kind of a mouthful.

How about those flags on the billboard? Well, in order from left to right, you have flags for the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, North Korea, and the Workers' Party of Korea. 

I have one more thing I'd like to share with you about that banner message at the bottom. It includes the word, "만세" (manse), which means ten thousand years. Kind of like wishing Kim Jong-il to live for 10,000 years, or as typically translated, "long live." When Dennis Rodman went to North Korea for "Basketball Diplomacy," as documented by VICE, the crowd of North Korean spectators erupted in cheers of manse when the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un appeared.

Propaganda in Pyongyang promoting the "sun of the century", Kim Jong-il.