The Supreme Commander in Ordinary Soldier’s Padded Shoes in Summer

One sweltering day in August 1951, Kim Il Sung inspected samples of military uniforms to be supplied that winter.

About ten suits of winter military uniforms, caps, gloves and padded shoes were exhibited on a display stand.

Guided by an official, Kim Il Sung inspected them one by one. Then he said, “Let’s hear the opinions of the soldiers who will wear them.” He called some soldiers, and made them try the uniforms on.

After checking the details of the lace-up padded shoes, Kim Il Sung said he would take a pair of padded shoes with him.

“What does he need them for?” the officials asked themselves.

The next day, they were surprised to see Kim Il Sung walking about, wearing the padded shoes.

Kim Il Sung went on wearing the shoes for more than a week.

One day, after a long spell of rain, Kim Il Sung walked along a muddy road to inspect the workplace of a squadron of sappers, still wearing the padded shoes.

Arriving at the place, he unexpectedly asked the sappers’ opinion of the padded shoes he was wearing, saying that padded shoes of that kind were expected to be distributed to all the soldiers in the coming winter.

The soldiers looked in wonder at the padded shoes for a little while, before saying with joy: “Comrade Supreme Commander! They are very nice.”

He urged them to pinpoint the shortcomings of the shoes, instead of merely approving them, so that he could get better ones made for them. He then aired his own opinion, saying, “I have been wearing the shoes for several days, and found them warm and comfortable. But they get wet easily. I am afraid they might freeze the feet.”

Then, pointing at the rubber frame, he said: The rubber is so low that the cloth gets wet even on a road which is not so muddy. During the winter in our country sleet is frequent, and roads often become muddy due to thawing, and shoes get wet easily. Therefore, shoes, even if they are padded, may still freeze the feet if they are wet.

He then drew their attention to his finger marking the possible height of the rubber frame to be raised, asking their opinion.

Upon their approval, he beamed, asking them if such a height would make the shoes look shabby.

One soldier replied that as the height of the rubber frame was to be raised for the soldiers’ convenience, it would also be good to see if they became accustomed to it.

Kim Il Sung was pleased that this answer was the same as his own opinion. There and then he said, “If you all approve, let that be the height of the rubber frame.”

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