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Kim Jong-Un's Legion of Note-Takers

Photos reveal North Korean dictators latest fad - visiting various sites with an entourage of officials and generals noting his every word.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/25/2014, 2:38 PM

Kim Jong-Un with note-takers
Kim Jong-Un with note-takers
Reuters

North Korea's Kim Jong-Un has found a new way to travel in style - in a recent series of photos the dictator is seen surrounded by note-taking officials and generals, recording his every word and move.

The new trend was picked up by BBC on Thursday, which noted on the photos released by the country's official Central News Agency (KCNA).

In them, Kim is seen with an entourage of note-takers while with a unit of female soldiers, at a fishery station, talking to a pilot, and visiting a renovated youth camp.

Korea expert Professor James Grayson of the University of Sheffield remarked that the photos are "part of the image of the great leader offering benevolent guidance," a propaganda practice instituted by Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, in the 1950s.

"It's about presenting him as having broad knowledge - however, it's ridiculous, he can't possibly know about all of these different things. It's important, however, that the apparatchiks (loyal Communist subordinates) that surround him are seen to be hanging on his every word," remarked Grayson.

Those taking the notes will be exerting extreme caution according to Prof. Steve Tsang of the University of Nottingham, saying "they wouldn't want to write down anything that was, say, politically inaccurate, or it might come back to bite them." 

Tsang noted that anything that might be used from the notes would first pass through the propaganda department, and might wind up altered considerably from how it started.

What's in the notes?

An example of the possible note contents can be gleaned from the KCNA publication of notes from Kim Il-Sung's visit of a fishery in 1976.

"Watching a truck at work, the president said that its bucket seemed to be small in comparison with its horsepower. He said the problem of carriage would be solved if the bucket was enlarged. Afterwards the truck's bucket capacity increased to two tons from 800 kg. As a result, 20 trucks were capable of carrying the load to be done by 50 trucks," read the note.

Kim Jong-Un's propaganda machine and control of his masses was put on display in March, when reports leaked that he had enacted a new order requiring all North Korean men to have his "Dear Leader" haircut.

Reports have indicated North Korea's "Nazi-like" abuse of its citizens, its bellicose threats of war towards its southern neighbor South Korea, and its ongoing development of nuclear weapons.