Towards the evening of December 31, 1983, Kim Il (the then Vice-President) was surprised to hear that President Kim Il Sung would be arriving soon. He was confined to his sick-bed at home. He was moved at the announcement, for New Year’s Eve was a busiest day for the President.
The family was in a rush to tidy up his room.
After a few minutes, the President entered the room, and clasped Kim Il’s hands warmly.
“Leader!” exclaimed Kim Il, with a catch in his throat.
The President was there to inquire about his treatment after all the solicitude he had shown the sick man.
Kim Il answered the President’s questions, and added that he was sorry not to be fit to work.
The President said that Kim Il had every right to rest after all his services, and that he was satisfied to see the latter still endeavouring to work further.
The President recalled with deep emotion how they had met for the first time. But their innermost feelings from the decades-long, arduous struggle were too many for a single night.
Feeling sad to see his comrade wasted by illness, the President proposed talking more later and sharing a glass of wine on the New Year’s Eve, and asked him if he was allowed a drink by doctors.
“I’m afraid not,” answered Kim Il with a sigh. Kim Il Sung decided not to insist on a drink if it would be harmful to Kim Il’s health. After a pause, he earnestly told Kim Il to battle his disease with perseverance. He tried to say something further, but turned his face, tears blurring his eyes.
Kim Il was moved by the leader’s solicitude. “Leader,” he said between sobs, “please take care of yourself. Now you are advanced in age. Please stop overworking yourself.”
“Thank you,” the President said, overcome with emotion and getting to his feet. “I have kept you sitting up too long. Now I’m going.”
But, he hesitated to leave. He was looking his comrade in the face, and after a while, said in a husky voice, “We always saw New Year art performances together every year. But this evening I could not see one properly, with tears welling up, as you cannot be with me.”
The President clasped Kim Il’s hands again.