Brooklyn, New York: Melville House, 2011. Trade Paperback. New. Black and white and color illustrations. Endnotes. Index. 17.5 x 21.5 cm. 217 pp. Item #14673
For years, North Korea watchers who speak no Korean have been confidently telling the world what motivates Kim Jong-Il. But in The Cleanest Race, B.R. Myers, a North Korea analyst and contributing editor of the Atlantic Monthly, presents the first full-length study of the North Korean worldview. In a lavishly illustrated work that draws on extensive research into the regime’s domestic propaganda, including films, romance novels and other artifacts of the personality cult, Myers analyzes each of the country’s official myths in turn—from the notion of Koreans’ unique moral purity, to the myth of an America quaking in terror of “the Iron General.” And in a groundbreaking historical section, Myers also traces the origins of this official culture back to the Japanese fascist thought in which North Korea’s first ideologues were schooled.
What emerges is a regime completely unlike the West’s perception of it – neither a bastion of Stalinism nor a Confucian patriarchy, but a paranoid nationalist, “military-first” state on the far right of the political spectrum. Given that North Korea is now calling for a “blood reckoning” with the “Yankee jackals,” Myers’ unprecedented analysis could not be more timely.