4月 01

Article 1:  
I hope this letter will be read by KIM Jong-eun

Written by:Professor Ri So-tetsu, Ryukoku University Japan

Dear Chairman KIM Jong-eun:
I hope this letter will be translated into Korean and will be read by you. Over several decades I have become deeply interested in your father KIM Jong-il’s life. I spent my younger days under the unmistakable cultural influence of your country. I grew up in a small village in Heilongjiang Province in northeast China where many Koreans moved into from the Korean peninsula during the 1930’s. The Winter were so cold that the villagers virtually went into hibernation. My mother was a native of the southern part of the Korean peninsula. She missed her hometown so much. Her only solace at the time was to listen to Korean radio broadcast. I was also fond of listening to radio Pyongyang. When Radio Pyongyang was broadcasting “Memoirs of Anti-Japanese Struggles” during the 1970s, we became infatuated. Besides the Radio Broadcast, we also liked North Korean movies and were fascinated by the beautiful melodies, actresses, and stunning displays. When I was a middle school boy, I could not sleep for many nights after watching the “Flower Girl.” At the time so many Chinese people were fascinated by your country.  
However, after China introduced its reform and open policies, our fascination with North Korea gradually faded away. When I was an university student in Beijing, I started to discover that there was a broader world and I went to Japan to further my academic pursuits. As I learned more about the world, I started to compare North Korea with other countries. The focus of my study was modern Asia and media history and eventually I started learning more about North Korea. There, I noticed the discrepancy between the North Korea of my younger days and authenticated facts in reference materials. Radio Pyongyang used to say that North Korea was able to produce 8 million tons of grain a year during the 1970s, but it has dropped to 4 million tons now and there is no sign that it will increase without any drastic change in national policy. I grew up in China which is also a socialist country, and I became curious about factors made the two countries so different.  
I quickly discovered that the fascinating movies and lyrical melodies I heard during my young days were simply a bravado and bluster concocted by your father. The reason why I wanted to write this book, the unknown story of KIM Jong-il, was because I believed that your father was the very culprit who made North Korea virtually, an inferno on earth. KIM Jong-il himself was responsible for bringing his country down to one of the poorest countries in the world. I wonder how much you really know about your father. As I learned more about your father, I came to believe life that for the masses is futile and transient. What did he really leave behind? I tried to condense it to three points. He wanted to live long. He mustered thousands of researchers to find out the secrets of longevity, collected elixirs from all over the world, but he could not live longer than 70 years. He enjoyed his life enough until that age. But the problem was his lack of moral standard. He enjoyed absolute power and a luxurious life at the expense of the starving masses while committing intolerable human rights violations.  
There is no excuse for a national leader to see millions starving to death while he enjoys extravagance. We know he worked hard. He did not sleep more than four hours a day. He went around for locus inspection during daytime, and he stayed in his office reading reports until late night. But what good did it do for anyone else other than to solidify his power? When he went out, all traffic was interrupted for his security and the secret police was deployed in the 10km radius from his destination. He was accompanied by special cooks, doctors, singers, and dancers. What good did it do for the masses? He had an artistic aptitude of a movie director, but he was always hard on the people with ideological surveillance. The consequence brought economic rupture and social devastation.  
Your father tried to challenge the relations with US with nuclear development. Your father knew he was a dictator and said he would face the same fate as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi if he was not protected by nuclear weapon, but the reason for these men’s downfull was not related to the possession of nuclear weapons. In our world, there are many strong and prosperous countries without nuclear weapons. Take for example Vietnam. It is a socialist country without a nuclear arsenal, but nobody bothers this country. Your father perhaps wanted to contain the US and surpass South Korea with its nuclear capacity, but it was sheer nonsense. His true motivation was to bind the internal esprit de corps in order to sustain his power. Your father’s dream was simply a wild-goose chase after all. The Soviet Union fell apart even with the possession of a enormous stock pile of nuclear weapons.  
We have to worry about the safety measures of the nuclear facilities. If you fail in a missile test, you can recover from the technical problems through further research. But if you fail to insure a nuclear safety, the radioactivity will annihilate a vast area. The Chinese and US nuclear experts are now worrying about the outdated Yongbyon nuclear facility that might cause a devastating radioactive leak.
I am a Japanese citizen now and as a foreigner it would seem overbearing to worry about your country, but I have a dream. If we could somehow link Japan and North Korea by an undersea tunnel, we will be able to reach Pyongyang in half a day by train, have lunch and return to Beijing the same day. There are no technical problems that we cannot overcome. If Japan, South Korea, and China agree to provide the technology and economic assistance to reconstruct North Korea, I’m sure that it can bring about mutually beneficial results. 

About the Author
Ri Sotetsu is professor of sociology at Ryukoku University, Kyoto; his specialty is modern history of East Asia and media history. The son of ethnic Koreans residing in Heilongjiang province, he was born in 1959 and educated in China. He lived in China and worked as a journalist for a time before going to Japan, where he earned a doctorate(Ph.D.) degree in journalism at Sophia University. He is a Japanese citizen. In 1998 he was appointed assistant professor at Ryukoku University and became professor in 2005. He is a prolific writer of articles and books studying the history of journalism in the former Manchuria and in Japanese-occupied Korea and analyzing current affairs in North and South Korea. Among his major works (all in Japanese) are: Kim Jong-Il to Kim Jong-Eun no shotai (On the Identity of Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Eun; Bungei Shunju), Park Geun-hye no chosen: Mukuge no hana ga saku toki (Park Geun-hye’s Challenge: When the Hibiscus Blooms; Chuo Koron Shinsha), and Higashi-Ajia no aidentetei: Ni-Chu-Kan wa koko ga chigau (Identity in East Asia: Here Is How Japan, China, and Korea Differ; Gaifusha).