Jeffrey LewisNorth Korea: Is Kim Jong-Il Nuts?

We’ve all heard the stories: playboy, alocholic, wack-job, etc. Typical is a recent book by one Kenji Fujimoto (a psuedonym), who claims to have been Kim Jong-Ils cook. An excerpt in The Atlantic leaves no doubt that Fujimoto thinks Kim is nuts.

So what to make of reports that North Korean state-media has dropped some of Kim’s more over-the-top titles and that portraits of the younger Kim (like the one below) are less frequently found next to those of his father, the Great Leader Kim Il Sung?

Thanks, Reuters.

“Kim Jong Il is known to be a little bit sceptical in private about the personality cult. He doesn’t buy into all the adulation,” Michael Breen, author of Kim Jong-Il : North Korea’s Dear Leader, told The New Zealand Herald. “But what’s prompted it? Who knows?”

Ruediger Frank, Professor of East Asian Political Economy at the University of Vienna, speculates that the de-emphasis on personality cult refelcts a larger process of reform underway in North Korea—an argument with obvious implications for the broader question of averting a crisis over Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.


On a lighter note, if you haven’t already, check out “Kim Jong-Il’s” weblog.