I've been trying to get hold of a picture of Google's dear leader Mr Schmidt bowing to a statue of Kim Il-sung - as a kind of 21st century moment, you understand. No joy so far, but in the absence of that, and since we've been talking militant protestantism downthread, here's a remarkable interview with a chap called Tony Namkung, who apparently arranged the trip:
In his January Series lecture, Namkung walked listeners back to North Korea’s founding and central leader, Kim Il-sung. It turns out that his parents were extremely devout Presbyterians, he himself taught Sunday School and he developed a deep knowledge of the Bible. For example, in the early 1990s, Kim had a robust exchange with a visiting Christian pastor on the Book of Leviticus.
...However, Namkung believes that Kim Il-sung, as an aging leader disappointed in the outcome of history and the difficulties of managing an economy so isolated, made a decision around 1990 to make peace with the West. This was when he began to talk about the Christianity of his youth. It appeared that a fundamental reversal of policy was taking place.
The idea that Kim Il-sung was literally coming to Jesus in his latter years is, well, interesting. Yet its worth noting Protestant groups seem to have a remarkable amount of access to the North. With only a slight alteration of revisionist history I'm seeing Big Ian in Pyongyang, leading the revival. And in that context, I wonder if there'd be a basis for doing a comparative analysis of King Sejong/King Billy in the mythology of their respective peoples.