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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid