Kim Jong Un’s First Speech Exalts Military, Unification

Kim Jong Un speaks at a military parade in Pyongyang celebrating the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth on April 15th, 2012, as seen from space. Photo credit Digital Globe, Inc. via MSNBC.

As far as we know, Kim Jong Il, late president of North Korea, spoke publicly one time only during his thirty years in the limelight of his country’s ruling party. When he did, it was a single line. His father, Kim Il Sung, had given a speech during celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the North Korean People’s Army’s establishment; after the speech, the younger Kim stepped to the microphone and voiced his only public sentiment: “Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean people’s army!” (see it in this video).

That was in 1992. The Western media heard his voice a few more times; for instance, in this video from 2007. Still, he gave no more speeches that his own country would hear.

Kim Jong Un gave his first public speech on April 15th, during the 100th-anniversary celebrations of his grandfather’s birth. It is the nation’s most important holiday. The younger Kim’s speech was extensive—20 minutes long—and stands in sharp contrast to his father’s reclusiveness.

Yet the content of the speech matches the sentiment shared by his father’s single line almost perfectly. Continue reading


A Hundred-Year Journey of the Family

I had the privilege of working with Professor Kim Duk-chul, the director and producer of A Hundred-Year Journey of the Family, a documentary that appeared in the line-up for documentaries in the sixteenth annual Busan International Film Festival (2011 October 6-14). Professor Kim Duk-chul’s documentary aired on both the 8th of October and the 10th of October. Although I had viewed the documentary while Professor Kim Duk-chul was still editing the film, I was fortunately able to participate in the official first screening of the documentary at the Busan International Film Festival.

The documentary was filmed in Japan over a period of ten years and explored the history and identity-formation of the Korean minority community in Japan. The documentary revealed how the division of the Korean peninsula has not only impacted the lives of people living in North and South Korea, but has also created long-term effects on the Korean communities outside of the boundaries of the peninsula, such as that in Japan. Professor Kim Duk-Chul’s documentary gives the viewer a glimpse of the division of the Korean minority in Japan, the Zainichi Korean community, upon the end of the Korean War and the importance of unification to the communities there as well as to families in North and South Korea. Continue reading