News / Asia

Q&A with Michael Malice: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, former leader Kim Jong Il.
FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, former leader Kim Jong Il.
Attempting to understand North Korea for many in the west has been compared to trying to see clearly through frosted glass. The Hermit Kingdom has cracked open slightly in recent years, allowing some visitors the chance to glimpse at a culture made mysterious and hidden, on purpose, by the Kim dynasty.
 
Celebrity ghostwriter Michael Malice went to Pyongyang in 2012 and collected English language North Korean propaganda books from which he has been able to write a humorous yet chilling book titled Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il. Using the first person to write the book in Kim Jong Il’s own words, Malice brings us a clearer view of the very serious methods behind the madness in this conversation with VOA’s Jim Stevenson.
 
MALICE: So much of our reporting and understanding of North Korea is from a western context. Most of these philosophies are completely foreign in every sense to the American mindset and the western mindset at large. So it makes it very, very hard for the typical person to have any idea of what is going on over there other than the fact that it looks very weird to our senses.
 
STEVENSON: This must have been a lot of fun for you to write and discuss as you were putting it together.
 
MALICE: Oh, it was not fun in the slightest. The backstory to creating this book was nightmarish. I went to Pyongyang, got armfuls of the propaganda. I slogged through all of these communist texts. They are so tedious and mind numbing, it is almost impossible to describe, and repetitive of course. So I had to read through these books to get a view of how North Koreans see themselves, how Kim Jong Il is presented there, and to adapt it in a palatable way in the first person perspective. If you feel that it seems fun, then I have done my job because it certainly wasn’t.
 
STEVENSON: We have heard so many stories of people visiting Pyongyang and being told Kim Jong Il discovered this, and created that.
 
MALICE: Some of those are actually true. For example, there is a very famous story that people in the west make fun of that says Kim Jong Il invented the hamburger. What the actual claim was is that Kim Jong Il introduced the hamburger to North Korea. In fact, when you are an absolute dictator, anything that happens in the country is only going to be by virtue of your privilege, so it is a fact that he introduced the hamburger in North Korea. Anything that happens in North Korea is a function of his giving the green light to it.
 
STEVENSON: I was reading the back cover and one of the bullet points was how he can shrink time, what is that about?
 
MALICE: Oh, this is my favorite story because in the literature they claim that Kim Jong Il can shrink time. It is absolutely true that he can shrink time and this is what they mean by it. He is at a conference and he is listening to the speaker and filling out some forms. People are interrupting him to ask for his opinion on things. At one point the speaker stops and Kim Jong Il says, “What are you stopping [for]?” The speaker says, “Well, you are doing these other things.” Kim Jong Il says, “I can do all these things at once. I can shrink time.” And everyone is shocked. When I told this story to my friend, she goes, “Does he mean multitasking?” Yes, that is exactly what he means. Apparently Kim Jong Il is the only person in North Korea who is capable of doing more than one thing at once.
 
… At the beginning you are laughing at him, at his ridiculousness. And the later it gets once you are on the hook, you realize this isn’t funny at all when you have someone boasting in the same tone about his great math skills and later boasting about public executions and concentration camps. You realize this is happening right now. We laugh at their antics. But part of these antics are the worst human rights abuses for the last hundred years.

Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid