by Andrew Pascoe, March 5, 2013
The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il will help the world understand that even if Kim Jong Il is a joke, the suffering of the North Korean people is certainly not.
Malice travelled to North Korea for the book and said while “nothing can prepare you” for the weirdness of the country – “it’s like going to another planet back in time,” he says – his greatest surprise was the sincerity and warmth of the North Korean people.
“Despite the fact they’ve been told all their lives that they should hate me and my countrymen, people were very warm and very positive towards me. They rolled out the red carpet for us.
“Communism would work if you could turn people into heartless robots, but what I discovered was you can’t crush the human spirit. And I saw a lot of the human spirit there.”
Malice has ghostwritten bestsellers for UFC wrestlers, rockstars and comedians. But his dream assignment was to cover the ultimate celebrity ghost: Kim Jong Il.
The Brooklyn-based author told NK NEWS he wanted to clear up the facts and fiction about the late dictator.
“Kim Jong Il is probably the most famous foreign leader in the States,” Malice points out. “And yet no-one really has any idea about who he is or about North Korea.”
The writer – who is funding the publication of the book himself and through Kickstarter after publishers rejected it for being “too weird” – will base the ‘autobiography’ on propaganda books by Kim Jong Il that he procured while in Pyongyang last year.
His aim is to “get inside Kim Jong Il’s head” to provide an insight into one of the world’s least understood figures.
“I don’t think Kim Jong Il perceives himself as evil,” Malice says. “I think he genuinely loves his country. It’s just that his ideology comes first.
“Everyone says he’s crazy, but there is a method to his madness.”
Nevertheless, the book will be packed with the seemingly insane quotes and visions of Kim Jong Il, and Malice hopes that through the humour and entertainment these provoke, readers will gain a stronger understanding of North Korea.
“I just hope it makes people take an interest because these people need our empathy. They’re suffering,” Malice says.
The author was humbled by what he describes as numerous “heartbreaking” experiences in North Korea: the incredulous (but quickly concealed) joy of a young boy when Malice snuck him some chocolate; the dream of a young woman to possess some perfume or hand lotion so she could smell nice.
“It’s hard to get our heads around famine but it’s not so hard to feel for a woman who will never get to smell nice.”
If Kim Jong Il is perceived as a clown to the western world, Malice wants to remind them that “there’s a lot of bodies behind the clown, just like the Joker”.
“I could not have any more sympathy than for the North Korean people,” he says. “The idea that we should feel a certain way about a people based on the fact our governments are enemies is abhorrent to me.”
Malice is hoping that, by contributing to the publication of Dear Reader through Kickstarter, the global community will step up to help create more sympathy for the North Korean people. And maybe some for himself:
“I’m reading through all these Kim Jong Il propaganda books for this project and let me tell you, they’re not fun reading,” he laughs. “It’s painful work.”
Watch a video of Malice discussing his project here.