This is exactly the way how propaganda works. In fact, propaganda, censorship, and doublethink are the keywords for answering this seemingly simple, but really complicated question.
We may safely assume that yes, the majority of North Koreans, including Kim Jong-Il himself, probably think he controlled the weather.
The missing article can be found in Wayback Machine. Actually, it does not say anything more than Wikipedia:
According to some reports, many North Koreans believe that Kim Il-Sung created the world and that Kim Jong-Il controled the weather.
Note, "some reports" are unverifiable by definition.
However, we may safely assume that yes, many North Koreans do believe in that, and here's why.
North Korea is a typical police state.
One of the key attributes of police state is propaganda. By definition, Propaganda is the use of media and other information sources in order to affect or control the perceptions and behavior of a population. Frequently information presented is wholly or partially incorrect, or misrepresented in order to convey a specific, pervasive message.
Why people would believe? They have no choice. They have no alternative information.
I was born under Russian occupation, and I remember myself sincerely believing that Flight KAL-007:
- was not flying there at all;
- then a week later — that it was actually a NATO bomber;
- then two more weeks later — that OK, it was a passenger Boeing-747 full of spy equipment and dead bodies for cover-up;
What happens to those who don't believe? They will be prosecuted. Propaganda is not only used for delivery of (dis-)information, but also to get feedback about how well it works. One of the most notable methods is publication of blatant disinformation (even with no apparent reason for lying) and then carefully looking who of the
slaves citizens attempts to object and subsequently prosecuting them.
Why people would refuse to speak truth?
There's a thing called history, and most people know something about their own family's history going back more than, say, 80 years. So it seems implausible…
- Those who knew the truth and spoke, are dead
— like my grandfather who was murdered by Russian Bolsheviks;
- Those who knew but kept silence and survived, would neither speak now
— by 1980's, we failed to convince my grandmother tell about circumstances of my grandfather's death, she simply refused to speak;
- Speaking to close family members does not help much; sometimes kids reported on their parents.
Why officers would believe? Yet another consequence of propaganda is broken chain of information delivery. Simply speaking, the chain of
KGB SSD officers who are supposed to discover and deliver true information about the social processes, fail to do that because of fearing of prosecution. The higher officers receive false reports telling that "everything is fine" and deliver it up level, adding something "new" from themselves.
This leads to a situation where top officials may even have less-realistic information than the lower ones.
Why Kim Jong-Il would believe? This phenomenon is not new, other dictators also allegedly become "out of touch with reality", and this may lead to various psychological effects including personality disorders. Again, due to lack of information we can't say for sure, but only guess. Some specialists say, for example, that Kim-the-youngest is sane.
Is it the first time in human history? No. A "flying" and "weather-controlling" dictator is not the only one. There have been several similar cases. Most notable ones are:
- Caligula allegedly planned to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul;
- A Russian Orthodox Sect Considers Vladimir Putin a Saint;
See how the cases above serve propagandist goals I mentioned above: e.g. anyone who would argue that horses are usually bad lawmakers, could be easily detected and prosecuted.
- Jason Stanley, "How Propaganda Works", ISBN: 9780691164427, ISBN: 9781400865802
- George Orwell, "1984".