The Leader and a Bare-Footed Boy

One summer day in 1955, some children of Changsong County met Kim Il Sung on their way home from school and gave him the Children’s Union salute. One of them had no shoes on.

The boy coloured with shame and tried to step back when Kim Il Sung looked anxiously down at his bare dusty feet. But the leader laid his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“Whom do you live with?” he asked.

“I live with my grandmother, mother and younger brothers.”

“What about your father?”

The boy hesitated to reply.

“What about your father?”

“He fell in battle during the war.”

The leader said no more, but hugged the boy. With a worried look, he said to his entourage: “Look here. I haven’t even given him a pair of shoes, but he has greeted me.”

A while later he asked in detail where and how the boy was living. Parting with the children, he promised that he would drop in at their houses some time later.

The boy ran along to his house to inform his family of the good news. When he was half way, he heard a car’s horn hooting behind, and the leader’s car pulled up beside him.

“Get in,” said the leader.

The boy hesitated, looking down at his bare feet.

The leader said, “It hurts to walk on the stony road, doesn’t it? If your feet become sore, you will be in trouble, unable to go to school.”

The boy turned his head away, tears welling up in his eyes.

When they reached the house, the leader greeted with the boy’s grandmother and mother. Then he told his aide to take the three brothers and buy them shoes.

It was a long time before they returned with new shoes on. The leader, still standing in the yard, did not feel relieved until he felt the toes and heels of the shoes. The boy was so choked that he could barely stammer out, “Thank you for buying me shoes. I will study hard.” Then he buried his face in the bosom of the leader.

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