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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Problems with Institutionalizing the April 15 Literary Production Unit

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2016, v.56 no.1, pp.140-164
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2016.56.1.140
Immanuel Kim (Binghamton University)
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Abstract

This paper examines a group of North Korean writers known collectively as the April 15 Literary Production Unit (LPU), a group that is not well known outside of South Korean scholarship. The April 15 LPU’s most important task was the production of the Immortal History series and the Immortal Leadership series, a task that continues to this day. Kim Jong Il personally designed and established the April 15 LPU in the mid-1960s, selecting veteran writers from the Writers Union. Their task was to novelize the revolutionary history of Kim Il Sung in a multi-volume series. In the DPRK, the Immortal History series and the Immortal Leadership series are considered unparalleled masterpieces compared to works written about Mao in China and Stalin in the Soviet Union. However, it would be shortsighted to assume that all writers in the Writers Union and the April 15 LPU are blind advocates of the legend of Kim Il Sung. The road to institutionalizing a group of writers solely for Kim’s personality cult was never smooth, and writers in both the Union and the April 15 LPU have struggled with the new writing system in the DPRK.

keywords
North Korea literature Writers Union April 15 Literary Production Unit Immortal History series personality cult of Kim Il Sung

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