Did atheist N. Korea's leaders really say they'll "pray" for Kim Jong-il?

Why have his successors called for three minutes of prayer at the end of his official mourning period?

Continued from page 4

Since his elevation, Kim Jong-Un has been constantly at his father’s side, and is said to be actively involved in state affairs.

In a memoir, Kenji Fujimoto, a former Japanese sushi chef for Kim Jong-Il, described the Swiss-educated Jong-Un as a “chip off the old block, a spitting image of his father in terms of face, body shape and personality”.

Some analysts had seen second son Kim Jong-Chul as favorite to take over. But Fujimoto said in his memoir that Kim thought of Jong-Chul as effeminate and unfit for leadership.

Eldest son Jong-Nam apparently spoiled his prospects after being deported from Japan in 2001 for trying to enter with a forged passport while attempting a visit to Tokyo Disneyland.

Jong-Un was born to the leader’s third wife, Japan-born ethnic Korean dancer Ko Yong-Hi, who is believed to have died of breast cancer in 2004. He is believed to have studied at international school in Switzerland under a false name. Newspaper reports say he enjoyed

basketball and drawing cartoons in Switzerland, where school staff and friends reportedly remembered a shy boy who liked skiing.

Until 2010, this was one of the only known photos of Kim Jong-un


Meanwhile, a website that champions the cause of North Korean Christians indicates that three minutes of prayer at the end of the mourning period may, indeed, be the intent of the government. However, the prayers will not be directed to God.

North Koreans practice “Juche,” which began as idolization of the nation’s founder, Kim Il-Sung, according to the website NorthKoreanChristians:

Today, Juche is no longer just an ideology, but a full-fledged religion that worships Kim Il Sung as god, and his son, Kim Jong Il as the son of god. In 2005, David Hawke, the respected human rights investigator, interviewed 40 North Korean escapees about religion in North Korea. Here are some of their responses about North Korea’s religion:

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Rob Kerby
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