North Korea’s restrictive regime is known for making some pretty outlandish and bizarre claims, but the latest proclamation might top the cake. According to the country’s government-run newspaper, dictator Kim Jong-un can control the weather.
Yes, you read that correctly.
“[Jong-un is] apparently so powerful that he can control the weather,” Fox News’ Stepard Smith quipped during a segment this week, noting that the newspaper said that the dictator “ascended to the top of a 9,000-foot mountain near the border with China.”
Once there, North Korea claims the weather dramatically changed — all at the hands of Jong-un
“When he got there, a blizzard gave way to fine weather,” Smith recounted through a smirk.
Jong-un also reportedly reflected on his nuclear ambitions while on the mountain.
USA Today further expounded upon North Korea’s bizarre claims, noting that the moment reportedly unfolded atop Mount Paektu, an active volcano. The newspaper said that Jong-un can control “the nature” and that he yielded “fine weather unprecedented.”
The claims are obviously disturbing on their own merit, though they become increasingly problematic when you put them in a deeper context, as they reveal that there’s a theological element of control at play.
Consider that journalist Suki Kim, who lived undercover inside North Korea for six months back in 2011, described life in the country as “a system of absolute control” — one in which freedom doesn’t exist.
“To try to understand North Korea, it’s basically a cult of the great leader,” she told CNN. “It’s a military dictatorship with one of the largest armies in the world and also it’s a place where communication is blocked.”
Kim said that there is even a building where people go to study the country’s leader. And indoctrination starts as early as kindergarten, according to a Washington Post report. That article continues:
The personality cult that permeates every aspect of North Korean life has become an ideology in itself. It revolves around Kim Il Sung, portrayed as an anti-Japanese revolutionary hero and founding father who remains North Korea’s “eternal president” more than two decades after his death.
His son, Kim Jong Il, was, according to North Korean myth, born on a sacred mountain, under a bright star at night. (In reality, he was born in Siberia.) Since Kim Jong Il’s death in 2011, Kim Jong Un has taken over the family business.
With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see why Christianity isn’t tolerated by the regime and is sometimes punished by torture and death. The latest claim that Jong-un can control the weather plays into the diety-like worship that North Korea has fostered.
Open Doors USA, an organization that monitors persecution across the globe, ranked the country the worst and most oppressive place in the world to live as a Christian, describing the reclusive nation as a “totalitarian communist state.”
“Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don’t comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed,” Open Doors explains. “Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labor camps, where unknown numbers die each year from torture, beatings, overexertion and starvation. Those who attempt to flee to South Korea through China risk execution or life imprisonment, and those who stay behind often fare no better.”
There’s no other way to frame it outside of labeling it incredibly disturbing.