This book is a study of North Korean propaganda done mostly from information found in South Korea because westerners can't just walk into the Pyongyang and ask to see all the propaganda. Myers said that no one really took the study of the propaganda seriously because it is too political for the cultural journals and too cultural for the political journals.
Myers's thesis is that there is really nothing there when it comes to Juche Thought. It just does not make any sense. Kim Il-Sung was not that educated. Juche Thought was an erudite philosophy created by some people who were not really interested in creating a coherent philosophy. They needed some educated sounding nonsense to serve as philosophy. Myers proposed that the North Korean government operates under Confucian paternalism.
In early propaganda, Korea was visualized as a younger sibling to Japan. That vision of Koreans as children has made them view themselves as innocents who are under attack from outsiders. As history moved on, any assistance from outsiders was erased from North Korea's official history, and the Kims were treated as parental figures (the state is both a mother and a father but mostly a mother) that North Koreans needed. Spontaneity is seen as a positive quality in children. I found that odd in a land where people don't really have the freedom to move about.
The roundness of the Kims is seen as the childlike quality of all Koreans. But at the same time, the leaders are seen as parents giving hugs to children and protecting their people in a lot of the propaganda. Here
is Kim Il-Sung hugging a little girl.
As the hardships of the 1980s and 1990s approached, there was a lot of imagery involving involving storms and waves. The storms and waves represented the outside world, and the leaders had to stand up to defend North Korea against them. Here
is a picture of former President Clinton and Kim Jong-Il sitting in front of a picture of waves. Attacks from the outside world seem to strangely make the leader of the country more powerful because it gives the parent-leader purpose and support.
The penultimate sentence of this book summarizes it nicely.
"In any case, the prevalence of motherly authority figures, the glorification of 'pure' racial instincts, the denigration of reason and restraint-- all these things encourage rashness among the DPRK's decision makers just as they encourage spontaneous violence among average North Koreans."
In a lot of the propaganda, Americans look a little bit like Ebeneezer Scrooge or offensive caricatures that you might see of Jewish people. They are men with hollow eyes and large hooked noses. In the linked
example, there are some hollow-eyed American soldiers torturing a Korean woman by pulling out her teeth with pliers. The woman is a wearing white which is symbolic of purity and innocence.
I found it odd that Americans looked like Jewish caricatures because North Koreans are not necessarily as critical of Jewish people as they are of American and Japanese people.