The Greatest Love

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“Have you ever loved someone?”

To North Korea, the question felt more like an assault than a harmless curiosity. He didn’t dare look across the table to his sister but instead stared into a half-empty bowl of noodles.

“There was someone,” he started after prolonging his answer for as long as South Korea would allow. “He was… wise, and handsome, and strong, and selfless, and he burned with convictions that could change the world. He devoted his entire life to serving others and fighting for his country.” Then came a forlorn sigh. “He was everything I ever wanted, and everything I ever wanted to be. His name was—”

“Please don’t say Kim Il-sung.”

“—was Kim Il-sung.”

South Korea was hit by the urge to slam her face into the table. Instead, she groaned. “Romantically! I was talking about romantically.”

“Romance is a hindrance,” North Korea said without skipping a beat. “The greatest loves any person should have should be for his country, his leader, and his comrades. In that order.”

South Korea squinted at him. “Do you hear yourself when you talk? You sound like a damn robot.”

“I don’t see the downside to that.”

“To what?” She almost snorted. “To sounding heartless and emotionally deadened?”

“To being a robot. I could be programmed so that I would remain completely loyal to juche ideology without ever faltering. I would always make the most appropriate decision and never fail to rightfully weigh the consequences. I would also be at least 200% more efficient than I am right now.”

“Oh my god.” South Korea threw up her hands, as if to surrender. “This entire conversation made me lose my apetite.”

“If you’re not going to eat that…”

“Sure,” she said, pushing her bowl to him. “Knock yourself out.”

After a tender moment of slurping, North Korea finally reciprocated his sister’s curisoity.

“What about you?”

“What? Have I ever been in love?” She scoffed. “Relationships are overrated. Foreign policy gives me enough personal drama as it is. Like, how am I going to worry about a partner when I have to worry about you firing missiles at me?”

Her brother just made a grunting noise.

She sighed, folding her arms. “But… it’s not like I’ve never, you know, thought about it before. Huh… I guess if I had my eyes on anyone, it would probably be America.”

North Korea started choking.

“Holy shit!” The sister jumped up in alarm; she was laughing at first—that is, until North Korea didn’t stop choking. “I was kidding! It was a joke! Are you gonna be okay? Say something!”

“I want to die,” he managed to croak out. He held out his chopsticks to her. “Take these. Take these and stab me in the heart. You already twisted the metaphorical knife in, now finish the job!”

She puffed out air. “Oh, stop.” Then she cocked her head to the side and scrunched up her face. “Ehhh, I mean, maybe if they were sharper…”

And that was the last time they ever brought up romance.


Kim Il-sung was the founder of the North Korean state and the man who, with the help of his son in later years, sent the country spiraling into a personality cult. So, naturally North Korea here would say he “loved” Kim.  There’s a lot of sincerity in this. Kim was a proud WW2 guerilla fighter who tried to crush Japanese imperialism in Korea. He also navigated the country through the Korean War and all of the good and bad that followed, right until he died (which happened, conveniently, right before the disastrous famine).

Kim wasn’t a figure people had to be forced to praise. He actually had a resume that was kind of inspiring. Whether or not he deserved so much admiration is up for debate, though.






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