By Kim Gyong Sik, Faculty of Foreign Languages & Literature, Kim Il Sung University
The great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il said as follows.
“You should read a lot of books written by world famous writers, to say nothing of the Korean art and literary works. President Kim Il Sung would recollect the fact that he was deeply impressed when reading the full-length novel The Iron Flood written by the soviet writer Serafimovich.” (“KIM JONG IL Completed Works” Vol. 2, P. 304)
People say that a book is a silent teacher and an eternal fellow traveler in their life. It means that a book not only provides people who make a long life’s journey with indispensable and varied and profound knowledge, but also plays an educational role in guiding them to lead a worthwhile life. A revolutionary literary work plays a very important role in the formation of the people’s outlook on the world.
One day in January, Juche 48 (1959), the great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il asked one official whether he had read the foreign novel “The Iron Flood”.
He vaguely said he had read the book once. But since he had read it to pass the time during rush hours, he couldn’t understand the whole contents of the book and what the writer intended to show even after he had finished it.
The great leader said to that official with an awkward look that people should regard revolutionary literary works as true textbooks in their life and for their ideological self-improvement. He continued that if people read books just for fun and as a pastime, then they would only be concerned about the content of the book and would not care about the course of the heroes’ growth and their ideological and moral qualities. He also said that the main purpose of reading revolutionary novels was to be well aware of the process in which heroes form their revolutionary world outlook and to arm oneself thoroughly with it.
Hearing the teachings of the great leader, the official was put to blush. The great leader mentioned that the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung said he had been deeply moved by “The Iron Flood” which he had read while he was in Jilin Prison. Then he summarized the novel for him.
According to his summery, this novel was written by Serafimowitch in 1924 and is based on a true story that Taman’s army broke the enemy’s encirclement ring and joined the main units of the Red Army by overcoming harsh difficulties during the civil war in Russia. Taman’s army, which was undisciplined and unorganized at first, is gradually brought to the threshold of revolutionary awareness through an arduous march by surmounting all kinds of trials and becomes conscious and organized revolutionary ranks and the “iron flood”. This shows that only a man of strong faith can achieve the final victory. Through portrayal of Kojuch, the hero in particular, the novel shows that one can succeed in breaking through any kinds of trials and difficulties and accomplish one’s revolutionary task only when one makes the masses of people conscious and properly organize and mobilize them with a firm faith to defend and safeguard sovereignty of the Soviet.
Listening to the detailed explanation of the great leader about not only theme and ideological contents and the circumstances under which the novel was produced, but also the important points that should be paid special attention to in reading this book, the official came to keenly realize once again the great personality of the great leader who was conversant with the trend of world literature and world-famous writers and their works with an outstanding analytical power and gave a detailed teaching as to the methodology to understanding foreign literature.
He keenly felt how wrong his attitude was as he used to read novels by way of killing time and at the same time, he couldn’t help but feel a strong impulse to read the book again.
As is shown by the above fact, the great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il is the great master of human literature and the arts, who is possessed of brilliant intelligence, extraordinary insight and a profound knowledge of literature and the arts.