Kim Jong-Il writes about opera

January 4, 2014 • 10:49 am

The Superior Person, Dear Leader, Shining Star of Paektu Mountain, Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love, Great Man, Who Descended From Heaven, Great Man, Who Is a Man of Deeds, Eternal General Secretary of the Party, etc. etc. etc.—in other words, the man God Incarnate Kim Jong-Il has written a book that you can buy on AmazonOn the Art of Opera.

In fact, he’s written several books, including On the Art of  the Cinema and Our Socialism Centered on Masses Shall Not Perish. I would dearly love to look at these books by the late Dear Leader, but must be satisfied with this totalitarian boilerplate from Amazon, which doesn’t actually mention the book:

Independence, peace, art, literature and friendship are ideas that have been consistently adhered to by the government of the North Korean Republic in foreign relations. As in the past, we will actively endeavor to develop relations of friendship and cooperation with the peoples of the world’s various countries, including socialist countries and nonaligned countries, out of the principle of independence.The harmonious whole between the leader and the leader that has been all the more consolidated with belief and cemented with filial obligation is the most valuable gain of our revolution, as well as the source of the Republic’s invincible power.


Surprisingly, the books ranks quite high for something of its ilk, and I have no idea who’s buying it, for of course Amazon isn’t available in the DPRK.

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Some of the comments, as expected, are hilarious:
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38 thoughts on “Kim Jong-Il writes about opera

  1. I shall refer to that Wikipedia page the next time somebody describes North Korea as “atheistic.” You can’t be an atheist if you believe your Beloved Father of the People is a Glorious General, Who Descended From Heaven and The Great Sun of Life.

    Though obviously mortal and entirely naturalistic, there can be no doubt but that Kim Jong-Il is a god and the (current) head of the North Korean pantheon.



    1. Uh, oh. If Kim Jong-Il is a god, then I have a problem.

      I believe he exists — am I a theist now? But, I don’t worship or even respect him — does that make me an atheist again? I just don’t know which I am — maybe I’m agnostic.

      1. Emperor-gods are a variation on the idol theme; they just happen to be living idols.

        Idols are undoubtedly real. You can hold many in your hands.

        What makes them idols are the beliefs that they have supernatural properties.

        They do not, of course, actually possess any supernatural properties; all idols are false gods.

        If you believe that they really do possess some supernatural property, that would indeed make you a theist. But simply recognizing the reality of the physical object and the significance placed upon it by its worshippers just makes you a spiritual kin to an anthropologist.



    2. I’m going to try to get everyone at work to refer to me as “dear leader”. See if it catches on.

  2. Has anyone noticed that if you pretend that the “l” is just a long apostrophe, that “Kim Jong-Il can be anagrammed into “I’m joking”?

  3. There is a kind of operatic grandiosity surrounding the doings of the DPRK and its leaders. Feeding your uncle and his friends to a pack of ravenous dogs, as Kim Jong-un did recently, has a touch of the Wagnerian about it.

    1. It’s not clear that the dogs thing is real. But, is there another country where such stories are even remotely believable? Insanity wall to wall.

  4. In his Vanity Fair article, Visit to a Small Planet, Hitchens mused on just how North Korea might best be described:

    Kim Jong Il, incidentally, has been made head of the party and of the army, but the office of the presidency is still “eternally” held by his adored and departed dad, who died on July 8, 1994, at 82. (The Kim is dead. Long live the Kim.) This makes North Korea the only state in the world with a dead president. What would be the right term for this? A necrocracy? A thanatocracy? A mortocracy? A mausolocracy? Anyway, grimly appropriate for a morbid system so many of whose children have died with grass in their mouths.

      1. I love the Hitchens quote (contrasting with Heaven as an eternal dictatorship) – “At least you can fucking _die_ and leave North Korea!”

  5. I’ve started to notice the new reviews, and many of them are also hilarious.

    For example:
    “I used to be sad when Dear Leader killed my family. Then i found this book lying on the ground as i was waiting for death in a gutter. now I’m super happy! Thanks Dear Leader!”


    “Western readers will have their conception opera challenged by this view of the art form from a North Korean viewpoint. For example, even non-opera fans know the cliche “It’s not over until the fat lady sings,” a reference to Brünnhilde’s aria in Wagner’s ring cycle. However, as the Supreme Leader astutely points out, “fat lady” is a relative term when the entire cast subsists on a diet of tree bark and grass.”

  6. Anyone else thinking of the scene in Terry Pratchett’s Pyramids right now? But our host did leave some good ones out:

    Father of the People, Sun of the Communist Future, Guarantee of the Fatherland’s Unification, Ever-Victorious, Iron-Willed Commander, World Leader of The 21st Century.

    And of course: Fate of the Nation.

    Well, that one fits.

  7. If 15 is ever closed for bridge repair when you travel on it, you could do worse than overnight in beautiful Buttonwillow.

  8. Hey, Dennis Rodman says he really ain’t so bad. Maybe Rodman can broker an era of prosperity and peace for the North Korean people. A basketball opera! He’ll have ol’ Kim eating out of his hand.

  9. 5.0 out of 5 stars The Florence Foster Jenkins of Marxist-Leninism June 1 2002
    By Cinderella Bloggerfeller
    Proof (if any were needed) that high tessituras and hardline Stalinism can make for a fruitful cocktail. Comrade Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader ™, is not only the rightfully crowned King of Socialism but also a formidable opera queen in his own right. The chapter “Charlotte Church: Crossover as the Dialectical Logic of Late Capitalism, or Just Some Cocky Welsh Teenybopper? ” is worth the price of admission alone. The best work of its kind since Pol Pot’s “Maria Callas: The Bel Canto Years”.
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 52 reviews
    735 of 748 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST for opera/totalitarian regime fans Sept. 23 2009
    By M. Shackleford – Published on
    Kim Jong Il (Sometimes referred to by his hip-hop pseudonym, “Ill Kim Jong”) proves once again that he has his fingers on the pulse of the art community with what is widely considered the seminal work in the crowded Dictatorship-Opera genre.

    This book covers the genesis of many of Kim’s most famous operatic pieces, including “Kim Jong Il Superstar”, “The Great Leader and the Amazing Technicolor Torture Chamber of Oppression”, “Die Folterkneht”, and his most popular work, “1984! On Ice!”. It also contains many autobiographical notes and anecdotes of his experiences during his rise to international opera super-stardom in the early 1970’s.

    I particularly enjoyed the stories about a young Kim performing the contralto parts of La Boheme with his mentor, noted Russian baritone Joe Stalin. Some of the behind-the-scenes exposition into the technical elements required to learn and perform such a part to perfection were incredible to read. Given the context of those elements, it’s clear to see why Kim made the decision to sing as a castrati throughout the remainder of his career.

    The full color photos of the famous Pyongyang Opera House (designed by the Dear Leader himself) were an inspiration to me as I missed the official “Great Leader Presents: A Night of Opera and Polka to Usher In a New Millenium of Continued North Korean Domination and Prosperity” concert in December of 1999 due to some minor entrance visa issues on my part… A fact I keenly regret to this day.

    I recommend this book unreservedly to anyone who is a fan of the arts, despotism, or state-sanctioned starvation, or, ideally, anyone who is a fan of all three.

  10. The value of mockery, illustrated.

    I hope the reviews are very hurtful to the sensitive feelings of Kim Jong Il, who — as it turns out — is the only one who technically does have the right to believe and say whatever he wants.

    1. It just occurred to me that there have been readers from N Korea that have visited here. I hope there is another visit so we will then have more reason to suspect that Kim Jong Il is a lurker.

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