Jang Shi-ki, a professor of English literature at Dongguk University, has posted an article online calling North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung "one of great modern leaders." In the article posted on the website of the National Association of Professors for Democratic Society, Jang asserts that the United States has been the biggest stumbling block to the independence of African countries since the 1960s. Kim Il-sung's "dignified" fight against the U.S. makes him an East Asian leader the disenfranchised of Africa revere, he said. "Whenever I am given preferential treatment just because I come from the same country as Kim Il-sung, I feel a little embarrassed," the professor simpers.
North Korea for many years and at great expense to itself gave military assistance to the murkier corners of the developing world, including African countries, and tried to spread the great leader's juche or self-reliance ideology among the benighted there. Nonetheless, few African intellectuals are unaware that Kim Il-sung killed millions by making war on his own people, and that he maintained his grip on power by way of concentration camps where he incarcerated dissidents and executed his adversaries.
Nor is there any reason to think that Africans are ignorant of the fact that Kim Il-sung established a bizarre dynastic system of leadership, alienated his country from the world community by developing nuclear weapons, and starved millions of people to death. The human rights situation in North Korea is even more appalling than in much of Africa. In South Korea, meanwhile, a man who thinks the monster deserves the self-affixed tag "great leader" is being let loose on university students.
To insist that what such academics write and say automatically constitutes a contribution to learning and must be protected as academic freedom is sheer hypocrisy. Jang's assertion that Kim Il-sung was a great leader lacks even the minimum objectivity needed to face history and reality, and his silly hero worship moreover feels like an attempt to ride the publicity coat-tails of Kang Jeong-koo, the nation's favorite leftist gadfly. The university and the country will be able to stand tall only when genuine scholarly endeavor leaves no more room for third-raters.