Kim Jong-Un’s First Speech, Interpreted as Doggerel


On Politics

On April 15, Kim Jong-Un, the new leader of North Korea, gave his long-awaited maiden speech, on the hundredth anniversary of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder. Befitting the occasion, enormous crowds attended, and male and female soldiers marched with goose-stepping precision.

North Korea-watchers considered it an important moment to gauge the new leader, and he did not disappoint, celebrating the particular take on history that distinguishes North Korea from all other nations.

A full transcript has just been provided by a North Korean website, but for the readers of The Paris Review, a condensed version has been prepared, in poetic form.


Comrades and Soldiers!
Love and Rockets!
Today we proclaim
Our bulging pockets.

Red Guard worker-peasants!
Red Guard of the young!
Let me sing you the song
Of Kim Il Sung.

A century ago,
On this exact date,
The Eternal President
Built our correct state.

A hundred years later,
We continue to rate.
The Kim Il Sung nation
Is utterly great.

All-crushing victory!
What a country he made.
I must passionately say,
I love a parade.

For too long the great powers
Saw us as their flunkeys.
Today, it is they.
[Imperialist monkeys!]

They trampled us
At their festival scenes.
In the glorious future,
They will soon be has-beens.

Thanks to the program
Of Military-First,
Our flowing coffers
Are ready to burst.

It’s ridiculous how much
We have for dinner.
Today marks the Grand
Festival of the Winner.

Monumental is
The Korean creation.
The gun barrel is
The life of the nation.

Even when it gets dark,
Or snows, or is raining,
We feel the hot wind
Of our Paektu training.

We will walk in this path
Till our shoes all wear out,
Then we’ll grow new shoes,
In our gardens, like sprouts.

Our people will have
Ever-fewer needs,
Because will grow
The valuable seeds.

We kindle the flames
Of new industries.
We feel the hot blast
Of a new business breeze.

The sun flag will flutter,
Far in the van.
With guns, and with butter,
I am your man.

Anacharsis Clootz is the author of
L’Orateur du Genre Humain