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The wikipedia article on North Korea's cult of personality claims "There is even widespread belief that Kim-il Sung "created the world" and that Kim Jong-il controlled the weather." The linked reference is dead. The fact that it's wikipedia makes me suspect.

How can this possibly be believed with a figure who lived so recently? 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, at least on the face of it, that such a belief could really be held by the general North Korean public. But if this is believed, that's pretty remarkable, and I'd like to know what the rationale behind it is supposed to be.

Does anyone have any research to back this claim up?

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    Most of these claims originate in interviews with defectors (an unreliable source), and then are blown out of proportion by media. That said, someone holding a gun in your head can have some interesting side-effects, that include - but aren't limited to - forgetting all about history, science and logic... – yannis Aug 8 '14 at 8:34
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    I dont know if belief is the correct term or even testable. That they have been told this would be. To that effect their is official DPRK releases that have claims at least similar to these. Including that KJI once shot an 11 in 18 holes of golf. 7 holes in one and 4 shots that went in multiple holes at the same time. – SoylentGray Aug 8 '14 at 11:58
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    The Daily Telgraph, at least, reports on the weather myth. "He reportedly spread the myth across North Korea that he could control the weather with his moods, as if by magic." telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/8965694/… – TenthJustice Aug 8 '14 at 14:07
  • @Chad- I think legend has it that KJI shot a 34 on a par 72, with 11 hole in ones. (Not 11 total strokes, though it might as well have been.) – TTT Aug 8 '14 at 15:22
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    Perhaps Kim created the World with the false memories of past events that did't really happen? The fundamental problem with creationism is, after all, that there is no reason why you must create the universe in some particular initial state. So, God could just as well have calculated what the universe would be like 13.7 billion years after the Big Bang when we would be discussing things here at Stackexchange, and create the universe directly in that state. – Count Iblis Aug 8 '14 at 19:36
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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.


Further reading

  1. Jason Stanley, "How Propaganda Works", ISBN: 9780691164427, ISBN: 9781400865802
  2. George Orwell, "1984".
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    You are going on a long tangent about the nature of propaganda, but you failed to provide any evidence for whether or not supernatural powers are commonly attributed to NK dictators by the NK propaganda machine. – Philipp Dec 8 '15 at 22:47
  • @Philipp thanks, this is exactly what I said in my recent answer on Meta. Namely, (1) lack of information from NK prevents us from answering whether or not the NK propaganda says X or Y. "Commonly" is also subjective. (2) So the question with your amendment becomes unanswerable. However, (3) every propaganda deliberately spreads unbelievable rumors, hence (4) we can safely assume that yes, there can be a widespread belief that Kim has created the Universe, not to mention smaller things like ability to fly or single-handedly create a nuke. – bytebuster Dec 8 '15 at 23:27
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    Just a small note. It seems that Caligula planned to make a horse consul was just to prove a point. – liftarn Dec 9 '15 at 7:55

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