Sunday, August 2, 2015

Review: Victor Fox's 'Kimjongilia'

My Goodreads review of Kimjongilia is here.

Beyond that review, I'm just going to sum up a couple points. This book does not resemble the N.C. Heikin documentary, though I suspect it's referring to it simply for attention. Nowhere in the story is the begonia cultivar mentioned, and Kim Jong-Il is only a character from birth to age 6, hardly a key player to the plot. So why choose this title, if not to guide people to this book by accident?

Kimjongilia is written by Victor Fox, a self-publishing author with a confusing website. His blog is a feed of cut-n-pasted sample text... the same text pasted over and over. The latest post is the stock "welcome to your new blog" entry that most thinking people remove. I'm not sure what's going on with that site.

Yet not only does he emphasize that Kimjongilia is absolutely a true story, but he indicates it was handed to him by an elderly Asian gentleman. The implication here is that it's a firsthand account (retold through Fox's styling) of 1940s Korea, just as the Soviets were setting up Kim Il-Sung to be Prime Minister and the Communist Party of China surreptitiously attempted to steer the direction of the new DPRK. Fox would have us believe he was simply jogging through the park and befriended an old man he'd seen several times, and that man handed him the "explosive" manuscript.

That could happen, but the information in this text is so detailed, with such profound insider material, that it requires extraordinary substantiation. In this story, the sexual deviations of the founder of North Korea are categorically explored; private meetings with Stalin and Mao are up for display; far-reaching background stories for a dozen characters are charted. Who could possibly have all this information? How much of it can be verified? The names all check out, but they're readily available from multiple public sources. I really need to hear from my preferred North Korea analysts and scholars, get their impression of this book.

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