Meet the man trying to resurrect Kim Jong Il.
A Brooklyn author who has made his career as a celebrity ghostwriter is in the process of putting the finishing touches on his latest work — an “unauthorized autobiography” of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, which features a propaganda-inspired history of the world’s “oldest” country.
“Korea was the first country on Earth, you know,” said Michael Malice, author of the upcoming “Dear Reader.” “Korean is also the world’s first language. You would know that if you grew up in North Korea.”
Malice has coauthored several hardcovers and paperbacks with celebrity musicians, comedians, and wrestlers. As he wrote them, Malice said, he would endeavor to mimic the voice of his celebrity subject.
Typically, the author would have the opportunity to consult with the person he was writing for in order to really nail the tone, but the Sunset Park resident did not have that luxury with his latest collaborator, whose embalmed remains are currently on display at Pyongyang’s Kumsusan Memorial Palace.
As a result, he has had to take some liberties.
“This isn’t in his voice, per say,” said Malice, who visited North Korea last year, returning with a large collection or propaganda pamphlets and books to use as source material. “His voice is very pedantic and mind-numbing. But the tone of North Korean propaganda is very giddy, almost Disney-like. So, when you apply that to some of the horrific things that go on there, it takes on a very dark humour.”
Kim Jong Il was present and involved in nearly every significant moment in North Korea’s history from the 1950s until his death in 2011, making him a natural narrator for Malice’s book.
“He’s their Forest Gump figure,” said Malice. “He’s everywhere where something happens, so by telling his story, he gets to tell the history of the country.”
And it is the history of the country, and the suffering of its people, that really interests Malice, who said he wanted to tell their story in a way that can be easily consumed by readers.
“My goal with this book was to present it in a fun, readable way, where you don’t have to sit through really dense, academic text, or delve into the geopolitics of the ’60s to understand North Korea,” he said.
But thanks to the departed Dear Leader, with his straight face and simple tone, Malice is confident he has crafted a horror story that anyone can understand.
“When you have someone defending censorship and concentration camps with a straight face, then the horror really shows through,” said Malice.
Michael Malice will discuss “Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il” at MuchMore’s [2 Havemeyer St. between East Eighth and East Ninth streets in Williamsburg, (718) 576–3222, www.muchmo