So the next question the average Westerner asks is "Do the people there actually believe Kim Jong Un has magic powers?" Not all of them -- Mr. Lee grew up with a great-aunt who had zero time in her life to take shit from the government. When the loudspeakers started up, she'd say, "Oh there they go again, spreading their lies." Mr. Lee's family had never been counted among the party faithful, and by his teen years he realized that his national government ran on bullshit. He felt like most of his countrymen bought into most of the propaganda, but Michael Malice (an American journalist who spent time in Pyongyang) had another suggestion: Most North Koreans know the propaganda is ridiculous, but they're too scared to say anything. "When you are in the public space you'd better sound like a true believer. An actor immersed in a role is going to be better at it."
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If Daniel Day-Lewis were an entire nation.
And that training starts early -- overall, Mr. Lee says about 30 percent of his education was useless because it only pertained to the Kim family. There were classes when he was younger on the lives of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, but when he got older, the teacher would spend 10 minutes talking about the Kim of the day and his accomplishments and then sprinkle more stories during other classes. Imagine if your algebra teacher had to link every lesson back to George Washington, and also George Washington was a living, ridiculous-looking little man.