North Korea

Libertarian Ghostwrites for Kim Jong Il


The New York Observer profiles Objectivist-libertarian celebrity ghostwriter Michael Malice, focusing on his latest project: a ghostwritten memoir of late Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Mr. Malice is an avowed anarchist. He doesn't vote, he doesn't believe in marriage, he doesn't believe in God. But according to his friends, he's extraordinarily open-minded. He has to be, one would imagine, given the career he's chosen.

book cover

"I hate this idea that the personal is political," Mr. Malice said. "Especially with the nature of my work, I'm collaborating with people of all sorts of perspectives, and if they're living their truth, I'm their biggest fan."….

Of course, his latest endeavor, to be titled Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il, isn't a collaboration…..

"I'm getting a little bugged out," Mr. Malice told The Observer. "I have to put myself in his high-heeled shoes as much as I can. He was painfully aware that when the people cheered for him, it was fake. And he's an evil, horrible man with the blood of millions on his hands, but you have to humanize him a bit."

In that way, Mr. Malice acknowledged that the book will be harder to write than previous ones. He genuinely likes the people he has ghostwritten for and keeps in touch with them to this day. Kim Jong-il? Not so much….

"His worldview is very simplistic," Mr. Malice noted. "When you're not in touch with reality, you don't have to have a nuanced philosophy."

While Mr. Malice plans to make the book comical, he wants more than anything to draw attention to the plight of the North Korean people.

I reviewed Harvey Pekar's graphic biography of Malice back in 2006.

Malice wrote an article about his personal experiences in North Korea that will be appearing in a forthcoming issue of Reason. Subscribe now!

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  1. You don’t have to humanize evil people. They’re already human. That’s what makes such studies fascinating.

  2. I think I’ll check out that book. It should be very funny.

    1. Check out the book Pyongyang, if you haven’t already.

  3. “His worldview is very simplistic,” Mr. Malice noted. “When you’re not in touch with reality, you don’t have to have a nuanced philosophy.”

    That pretty much describes all progressives.

    1. And how they describe us.

      1. Ahem, I believe the term they use is “cartoon”. 😉

  4. While Mr. Malice plans to make the book comical, he wants more than anything to draw attention to the plight of the North Korean people.

    And having drawn attention to it, exactly what response is he looking for? A liberating invasion, or what?

    1. You know who else would use the phrase “a liberating invasion”?

      Hint: Starts with “Kim” and ends with “ong-Il”.

  5. I reviewed Harvey Pekar’s graphic biography of Malice back in 2006.

    I thought that name sounded familiar.

    That’s all I can remember about that book, in fact.

  6. I watched a documentary on North Korea last night. My eleven yr old daughter was becoming visibly annoyed without any of my poisoning the well beforehand.

    I’m so proud of my little libertarian.

    1. It’s pretty hard to make NK look good to anyone. Even hard core commies are embarrassed by it.

      1. Specifically, it was a documentary about a nepalese Dr. who had traveled to NK to perform simple eye surgery to help people see.

        It was a fairly low-cost operation that, despite NKs free single payer healthcare system, isn’t available *pause for irony*.

        Anyhoo, when they started removing the bandages from people’s eyes and they could see, they were overwhelmed with emotion. Each person would walk to the front of the room, bow to the portrait of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and (I’m not making this up) promise to work harder in the salt mines because Dear Leader had given them their sight back. I was just quietly watching this procession of people, when my daughter threw up her arms at some point and said “He (Kim Il whatever) didn’t give you your sight back, an doctor from Nepal with American medical equipment gave you your sight back!”

        1. Yeah, but a Doctor from Nepal isn’t going to send them to the labor camps, either.

  7. He was painfully aware that when the people cheered for him, it was fake.

    I’m not sure that would be true. Who is gonna be the brave soul to commit treason and tell the Dear Leader that he is not universally adored? What evidence would Kim Jong-Il have that anyone but a handful of traitors felt malice toward him?

    Though, to play Devil’s Advocate, since the line of succession in NK appears to feature sociopaths, it is possible that the Dear Leaders were incapable of having emotional responses to others, and thus would be incapable of being “painfully aware” that their subject-slaves thought differently than them, or be unable to care what the masses thought.

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