June 19, 2014

Further thoughts on "Dear Leader" at Auckland Writers Festival 2014

Honour Zhu emigrated to New Zealand from China, and now works at Northcote Community Library. In this guest post she tells about her reactions to the "Dear Leader" session at Auckland Writers Festival 2014.

The author of the book Dear Leader, Jang Jin-sung, used to be a propagandist for North Korea, but now lives freely in South Korea.From the compulsory three-year mourning period after the death of general Kim Jong-il, to the minister who was executed by a flame thrower during a cabinet meeting, North Korea has always seemed mysterious to others in the world.

Having grown up in mainland China, I had some special reactions to North Korea compared to the rest of the public listening to Jang Jin-sung. Until I was ten, the majority of the films I watched were from North Korea. The films always reflected how miserable the lives of South Koreans were, and advertised the greatness of Kim ll-sung. What was most interesting to me when watching these films was that when people mentioned their great leader, tears would flow from their eyes. As a child, I could not understand why, but accepted it as a fact. 

Interviewing Jang Jin-sung, John Sinclair read the poem “The most delicious food in the world” which he included in his book. It was a beautiful poem which expressed how delicate and helpless the children were when they faced the 1990 famine of North Korea. 

The poem made me think of the book Tombstone which is about a similar disaster which happened around 1960 in mainland China, where the book is still banned today.

Stepping out of the Aotea Centre and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, I felt a new awareness of the privilege I have as an information worker in New Zealand, able to assist people in expressing, disseminating and finding the information they want without any political or religious restraints.

I requested the book Dear Leader and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 00:23
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