The Words of the McKenzie Family

An Analysis of North Korean Propaganda

Hal MacKenzie
February 1972

North Korea is known as the most hardline Stalinist regime the world has ever known. The degree of regimentation that it exerts over its fourteen million people, the depth of its commitment to violent revolution, the extremes of the personality surrounding Marshal Kim II-Sung are unparalleled by any modern Communist regime, and surpasses even Stalinist Russia in its heyday. While most other Communist regimes have covered their propaganda with a veneer of sophistication and legitimacy, North Korea's is unabashed in its vulgar glorification of Kim Il-Sung, the intensity of the abuse it heaps upon its rivals, and its extensive use of the "Big Lie" technique.

A prime example of the cultivation of Kim II-Sung is his biography, published in 1969 by a Japanese publisher and advertised extensively in the New York Times and the Times of London. Even as outright propaganda, this document is amazing in its fantastic claims.

To legitimate Kim's claim of being the Messiah of the 40 million Korean people, the book unashamedly distorts Kim's background to portray him as coming from a revolutionary family, single-handedly defeating the Japanese in Korea, and personally building the Korean Communist movement with minimal help from Soviet Russia and Communist China. To refute all of the lies in this book would take too long here, but a true account can be had from the Korean Communist Movement, 1919-1948, by Dae-Sook Suh, Princeton University Press, 1967.

A perusal of The People's Korea, an English-language weekly published in Japan, reveals a continuation of the messianic theme. Every mention of Kim Il-Sung is repetitively followed by superlatives such as "respected and beloved leader," or "the great leader of the 40 million Korean People." The glorification of Kim is complemented by a corresponding vilification of his rivals, in particular South Korean President Park Chung-Hee.

The "Big Lie" remains an all-pervasive aspect of North Korean propaganda, as can be seen in this quote from the radical newsweekly, the Guardian:

"As mass opposition was developing inside South Korea to Rhee's tottering dictatorship, he made one final, desperate attempt to become ruler of all Korea on June 25,1950, units of the U.S. -- controlled South Korean army crossed the 38th parallel, puns blazing -- The DPRK immediately repulsed the attackers and began pushing toward Seoul." (10 Sept. 1970)

Ordinarily, home-grown North Korean propaganda would be dismissed by most people in the West as the ravings of an insanely paranoid regime. However, there is a heavily financed effort on the part of leftist and Communist groups in America to spread high-quality pro-North Korean propaganda, with all the legitimacy they can muster from pro-Communist professors and front-group leaders. On February 27, 1971, a full-page ad appeared in the New York Times, paid for by the "American- Korean Friendship and Information Center," urging the pull-out of American troops and equipment from Salt', Korea. The AKFIC executive board includes such prominent leftists as Prof. Howard H. Parsons, Ruth Gage-Colby, Joseph Brandt, and Herbert Aptheker. The AKFIC has since come out with a fat, "scholarly" magazine called "Korea Focus," featuring thinly veiled article blaming the U.S. and South Korea for all of the tensions in Korea, and lauding the "peace" moves of the Kim Il-Sung regime against the South.

Furthermore, a full two page ad appeared in the Vancouver Sun on June 26,1971, paid for by the "Friends of the Korean People," featuring a prominent picture of "President Kim II-Sung, Great Leader of Forty Million Koreans," over an interview of Kim by the "Democratic Youth League of Finland." North Korean "friendship" groups are also active in France, England, Germany and Japan.

The Black Panther Party paper dedicated a full issue to Kim, lauding him as a great leader of the Third World revolution. A new commune has appeared in Berkeley, calling itself "Chollima" after the title of the industrialization movement in North Korea. Korean residents throughout the U.S. have recently received high-cost pamphlets and hard-bound books of the "works" of Kim Il-Sung with no identifying marks or union labels. Pro-North Korean literature has also appeared on campuses coast to coast with no identification.

One shudders to think that such a blatantly tyrannical and violent regime as Kim Il-Sung's has such an extensive public relations effort in its behalf. It reflects similar attempts after World War II to "sell" the brutal dictatorship of Stalin to the West -- an attempt which was, alas, all too successful. If the truth about the North Korean regime were fully communicated to the world, then Kim Il-Sung and his "lackeys" in the West would receive only the disdain that they deserve. 

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