04/09/2010, 00.00
KOREA
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Monument to Kim Il-sung damages intra-Korean relations

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Located on the campus of a new university in Pyongyang, the obelisk is dedicated to North Korea’s ‘eternal president,’ whom North Koreans are forced to worship. Christian groups, who are against the cult of the leader, donated the money that paid for it.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – A monument dedicated to Kim Il-sung was installed on the campus of the new Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). Built with donations from South Korean and US Christians, it could tank intra-Korean relations for good. The 20-metre granite monstrosity embodies the Juche idea, North Korea’s quasi-religious state ideology. The latter is based on the notion of self-reliance as defined by the country’s founder, something that North Koreans must worship.

The Daily NK, an online newspaper that focuses on human rights issues in North Korea, has definitive evidence of the misuse of funds. Named ‘Yeong Saeng’ or eternal life in memory of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s ‘eternal president’, the obelisk is but one of many other erected to glorify the father of the last Stalinist state in the world.

The vertical structure displays a “Kimilsungia” flower sculpted in relief on the bottom and an inscription that reads, “Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung is with us for eternity”.

Monuments dedicated to the eternal life of North Korea’s founding father dot the country’s landscape. They were built by Kim Jong-il, the late dictator’s own son in a frenzy of quasi-religious filial devotion. In fact, “Yeong Saeng” monuments exist in many cities, big and small, and residents are violently “encouraged” to honour the great leader twice a year, on 8 July, the day he died, and 15 April, the day he was born,

Next week, the whole country will thus celebrate the founder’s birthday. Current leader Kim Jong-il is expected to use the occasion to announce that his third son, Kim Jong-un, will succeed him.

However, building the monument has stopped the inauguration of the new university. The delay is due to protests by donors, who coughed up 40 billion North Korean wons (US$ 35 million) to put up the structure.

In the case of South Korean taxpayers who contributed to the project, they will have to rely on their country’s Unification Ministry for a response. An official with the ministry said, whilst “North Korea’s stance is that PUST cannot be an exception” to the rule that all educational facilities in the North have their “Yeong Saeng monument, if “the Yeong Saeng monument becomes a propaganda tool aimed at outside visitors, we will readily respond.”

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