The Korean Succession: Late Great Leader portrayed as dunce who got low Marx: Andrew Higgins learns that Kim Il Sung's old professor of Communism didn't rate him too highly on theory

THE MAN who taught Kim Il Sung the ABC of Marxism has not let the death of his former pupil soften a harsh judgment: the Great Leader was an awful student. 'He had no education at all. He understood nothing about the theory of Marxism,' says Park Il Petr Alexandrovich, a Leningrad-trained professor of Communism sent to Pyongyang in 1946 to tutor Korea's revolutionary elite.

Mr Park, 83, heard the news at dawn on Saturday when a philosphy professor telephoned from the South Korean capital of Seoul. 'It is sad when anyone dies but I am not weeping for him.' Nor is he cheering for Kim Jong Il, the late Great Leader's son and chosen successor. The focus of a personality cult second only to that of his late father, Kim Jong Il is hailed in North Korea as a 'genius of literature, art and military' and the author of 'immortal exploits for mankind.'

Mr Park has never met the younger Kim but takes a more sober view of his talents. Particularly weak, he says, is the Dear Leader's Marxism: 'He knows less than his dad.' And this is bad news for Korea as he thinks Kim Jong Il will have grave trouble holding on to power.

Speaking by telephone from Kazakhstan, where he has lived since leaving Pyongyang in 1948, Mr Park sounds more a schoolmaster than an ideological zealot: 'There are educated people in North Korea but none of them know anything about theory. If Soviet Marxism is distorted, Korean Marxism is distorted three times over.'

An ethnic Korean born in Russia's Far East, Mr Park spent two years in Pyongyang working for the Soviet generals who seized control of the north of the peninsula from Japan at the end of World War Two. Aside from giving a crash-course in Communism, he also helped ghost-write Kim Il Sung's wartime record, a project which led to a rift with Soviet military authorities and his own premature departure from Pyongyang. He says the Great Leader spent much of the war in Russia planting potatoes, not leading guerrillas in the mountains of Korea, as claimed. Also fake, he says, are Kim Il Sung's dozens of books and pamphlets: 'Many Russian authors got an Order of Lenin for writing under Brezhnev's name. It was the same in Korea.'

The truth, buried beneath layer upon layer of propaganda from both sides of the 38th parallel, may never be known. Mr Park insists that most of Kim Il Sung's exploits are a fabrication dictated by the Red Army's chief political commissar, Major- General Romanenko, who needed to create a Communist rival to Syngman Rhee, the American-installed puppet in the south.

Despite extensive contacts today with South Korea, where rigid anti-Communism is the national creed, Mr Park says he remains true to Marxist philosophy, though not always its politics. The only Marxists he admires are Marx and Mao. Marxism is not a question of faith: 'I don't believe in Marxism; I recognise it as a science.' This was something Kim Il Sung could never grasp.

Now that the Great Leader is dead, Mr Park predicts trouble ahead as the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, tries to consolidate power. But he still hopes to live long enough to make it back to Pyongyang. His dream is to give a course on philosophy at the university there.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
News
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years