Kim Jong Un had a strange -- and disturbing -- way of celebrating his birthday this year. A new report claims that the Supreme Leader of North Korea gave his senior officials copies of “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler’s prison manifesto, as gifts.
Kim Jong Un reportedly distributed copies of “Mein Kampf” to senior North Korean officials in celebration of his birthday in January. New Focus International, a North Korean media outlet that sources from defectors and volunteers within the militaristic nation, released the information in a new report, the Washington Post notes.
“Mein Kampf,” written by German dictator Adolf Hitler during his 1924 imprisonment, was purportedly distributed as a so-called hundred-copy book. Such books are circulated in limited numbers among top officials -- despite the fact that most books are banned in North Korea, the Post reports. Gifts given in celebration of Kim Jong Un’s birthday are usually considered to have a particular political significance.
Despite the book's overtly racist themes, it was reportedly not distributed as an endorsement, tacit or otherwise, of Nazism; instead, Kim was attempting to draw attention to the manner in which Germany rebuilt its military and economy after World War I. A North Korean citizen who works for the nation in China told New Focus that Kim recently gave a speech in praise of Germany’s revival under Hitler and encouraged officials to read “Mein Kampf.”
“Kim Jong Un gave a lecture to high-ranking officials, stressing that we must pursue the policy of Byungjin in terms of nuclear and economic development,” the source told New Focus by phone. The phrase “Byungjin” translates to “in tandem,” a reference to Kim’s policy of concurrently improving North Korea’s nuclear program and economy, the Post notes.
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“Mentioning that Hitler managed to rebuild Germany in a short time following its defeat in World War I, Kim Jong Un issued an order for the Third Reich to be studied in-depth and asked that practical applications be drawn from it,” the source continued. This suggestion likely serves as the impetus for Kim’s distribution of “Mein Kampf.”
Still, if Kim and his top advisers are hoping to use “Mein Kampf” as a blueprint for economic success, they may be misguided. The Post notes that Hitler’s manifesto is “famously incoherent” in terms of economic policy. Moreover, the gift is likely a symbolic gesture, meant to serve as an example of how a dilapidated Germany rose to become an economic and military power -- a feat that Kim’s North Korea will attempt to match.