The Great Leader and The Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and the Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way to Freedom. Blaine Harden. Penguin Group (USA). March 2015. E-Book. 304 pp. ASIN#: B00LFZ8R7C.
This is the revealing story of Kim IL Sung, the so-called Great Leader’s rise to power. In some ways there’s nothing new here for anyone in touch with the current news stories about North Korea, and yet there’s everything new about this account. It’s as much about Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian history as it is about the Great Leader. Having served his time in the military, Kim IL Sung is eventually elevated as the Great Leader of Northern Korea and is determined to invade the South, misguided as to whether or not the Americans will return to help the South. Stalin pacifies him until the time is right. Mao Tse-Tung
Meanwhile a North Korean soldier, No Kum Sok, has watched his people suffer even though he carefully excels in spouting the Communist party line. Eventually, he will escape and defect to the Americans, bringing with him a Soviet MIG-15. He is a valuable turncoat and brings phenomenal information to the Americans. His act propels Kim’s insistence that revenge will be paid.
This account is obviously well-researched, including the cruelties inflicted on the Korean people and the propaganda lines that literally built up a fantasy story fed to the believing North Korean people.
WWII and the behavior of North and South Koreans, as well as the American involvement under General MacArthur are vividly described.
What remains of dubious quality is how much the North Korean people were forced to acknowledge Kim IL Sung as someone slightly shorter than divine, no matter what he said or did, no matter that his people were literally starving to death. All available money was apportioned to the military and industrial development. What kept so many from rebelling is described carefully as well as the fact that one rebel would equal numerous deaths of family members of the accused. Brutality is and was the norm for this megalomaniac!
The Greatest Leader and The Fighter Pilot is the true story of two opposing individuals, one who became worshipped by a subjugated people and one who refused to embrace tyranny and was willing to suffer the costs of leaving Korea. Excellent non-fiction account of a dynamic historical period and two formidable heroes who chose different roads to fame!