What the heck can we learn from Kim Jong-un about marketing?
A few weeks ago, some of you may remember I was at a live event featuring the famous North Korean Defector, Yeonmi Park. I was deeply moved by her courage and felt her sadness regarding her hardships in the Hermit Kingdom. Since then, I have went on to read her book and a few other books related to that crazy country.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of hardships and difficulties. I’m sure a lot of you have heard about this before: constant starvation, people executed only after a petty crime like stealing a small packet of rice, everyone has to agree with the ideologies of the General or else they’ll get executed…
The most interesting book, however, was not written by a someone who starved. It was actually written by a Defector who was formerly a high ranking official in North Korea’s intelligence agency, who had plenty of food and had permit to not be executed easily. He was able to see the inner workings of the government including how Kim Jong-il( the former General) was able to gain such great power and make his citizens cry for his “heroic acts”, even though they starved and suffered.
Here are some insights:
1. Setting up of UFD Department
This department consisted of guys who focused on writing poems that praised the General. The poems were vetted carefully by the officials and finally by the General himself. If he likes it, the poem would be published on newspaper. When the citizens read these, they feel like the General is great.
Keep putting out content. If you’re too busy for that, hire or outsource to someone to do it!
- Poems about the Generals sufferings
One of the poems was about the General only ate rice balls, and suffered himself as he saw his citizens suffering. Then, when the author visited his poor friends who haven’t eaten for days, they asked him, ‘Has the General eaten?’ While having concerned tears in their eyes who themselves, have’t eaten in days.
In fact, the author had meals with Kim Jong-il, and he had extravagant feast that was more than enough for the guests. They even had ice cream that is lit up in fire.
Yet, the poems make the citizens feel that Kim Jong il is just like themselves. They have sympathy for him, yet appreciates that he is such a great guy.
Write content or stories that you are just like your potential customers. Make it relatable.
Kim Jong il never shows he’s rich
He never feasts in front of civilians. In fact, he does eat extravagantly with the high ranking officials daily. However, if any of them were to tell others outside this special circle, they would be prosecuted, which includes executed at the spot.
Always dress in sync with your marketing message. E.g. Kim Jong il always wears the same set of clothes to show that he is indifferent from the civilians. You should follow this rule even if you’re put pictures, infographics, video content out or doing Fb live. They should match your brand image.
Kim Jong-il is everywhere
Slogans on the streets, poems, songs, textbooks, his photo in people’s houses, etc. All of these sung praise about him and made people respect him.
Lesson: Always stay visible. No matter if you are putting out a post, or just asking a question, you should always stay on top of people’s mind. Also, if you’ve met someone new, always follow up, even if just for a casual chat on the phone, email or meeting in person. Stay visible.
Kim Jong-il doesn’t give a crap about what you think
United Nations and human rights body says he’s in violation of human rights? He keeps doing it.
However, he listens to other officials who helps him achieve his goals.
Lesson: Only listen to those who give you good advice whether because they are more experienced or more knowledgeable than you, and that they want you to succeed.
Although Kim Jong il and Kim Jong Un are undeniably evil to make others suffer because of their greed for power, I have to say their methods of marketing to people really works. Of course, their extent of marketing is almost brainwashing. Also, a word of caveat is that you need to use these methods with care. When used inappropriately to achieve evil purpose, these can definitely cause massive destruction to your business or people working with you.
However, when used in the right way, you will gain many loyal followers through content marketing and customers!
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Books mentioned: In Order to Live - Yeonmi Park (https://www.amazon.com/Order-Live-Korean-Journ…/…/014310974X) Dear Leader: North Korea’s senior prepagandist exposes shocking truths behind the regime - Jang Jin-Sung (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dear-Leader-propagand…/…/1846044219)