Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il

By Michael Malice - Rating: 9/10

I have read quite a few books that give an account of what it is like to live under the control of a totalitarian regime, from 1984 to Pictures of the Socialistic FutureDear Reader is the first I have read that is told from the perspective of the tyrant, in this case North Korea’s Kim Jong Il. The events portrayed were written based on actual North Korean propaganda literature. Diving into this book, I assumed it would be a comedic romp from one crazy adventure to the next, and, while there is still a bit of that, it really is more of a rare glimpse into the story of Kim Jong Il as the North Koreans know it. The propaganda injects The Dear Leader into every event within North Korea’s history and sets him and his father up as untouchable god figures. It’s both funny and depressing. At times I felt that this is how people who aren’t sympathetic to Ayn Rand’s views must feel when they read Atlas Shrugged—with its tales of super-human achievement and hero worship. While the book keeps its darkly comic tone throughout most of its 400 pages, the last passages are a gut-punch reminding us, the dear readers, just how serious and awful the situation in North Korea is.

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