North Koreans Never Actually Heard Kim Jong-il Was A Master Golfer
It's propaganda week at Cracked! Keep calm and read on.
Kim Jong-il, the nutty North Korean dictator before the nutty North Korean dictator we have currently, was famous for his long list of completely false accomplishments spread by the government to earn his people's respect. He learned to walk at three weeks old! He authored 1,500 books while at college! A new star appeared when he was born! The one time he went golfing, he landed 11 holes-in-one!
That last fact, while ridiculous, is also just mundane enough to stand out as odd in its own special way. While Jong-il was still alive, some reporters visiting North Korea tried asking various locals about the golf legend. None had heard of it, let alone believed it. In fact, on review, there was no record of Pyongyang spreading it.
The golf story actually contrasted with the party line on the dear leader: Normally, the legends said nothing about him playing games (though he really was a basketball fan), which would be seen as frivolous. International competitions are honorable, but solo fun is an indulgence. Golf in particular would seem ill-fitting for a communist—even in America, golf is slightly elite, but the average American can afford to visit a public golf course if they want, while the average North Korean absolutely cannot.
The story appears to originate from the Australian Financial Review in 1994. A reporter visited North Korea pretending to be a golf professional, and while touring a golf course there, he asked whether the leader had ever played the game. His guide said yes. Kim Jong-il had been an amazing golfer and had sunk five holes-in-one the time he'd come by.
That reporter, Eric Ellis, wrote about the encounter. He didn't say that the government was pushing this story, or that his guide believed it. The point was that his guide, knowing they were being monitored, had invented this absurd lie on the spot, fearing repercussions if he said something merely neutral.
In time, the media called this one forced anecdote told at the Pyongyang Golf Club a widely believed national truth (and also upped the number of holes-in-one from five to eleven). This pushed the narrative of North Korean's disinfo tactics, as though we didn't have enough real evidence of that already. So, you might say that the story about Kim Jong-il's golf game was propaganda after all ... anti–North Korean propaganda.
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Top image: Russian Presidential Executive Office