Glasses of Liquor Received by Young Korean Businesspeople in Japan

One day in mid-October 1985, President Kim Il Sung hosted a luncheon for a delegation of young Korean businesspeople in Japan.

They were overwhelmed by his kindness.

The President personally filled their glasses with liquor, saying that they did not need to exchange formal speeches as they had already been conversing.

They could not bring themselves to empty their glasses, thinking it would be discourteous of them to drink in front of him.

Looking at them standing up straight and rigid with glasses in their hands, the host put his glass down on the table and said:

“When else should we have an alcoholic drink, other than on such a happy day as today? I will drink after you.”

Still, the guests did not empty their glasses. The host looked at them closely for a while, and then told them an emotional story about what had happened when he had visited Ryuda Island in the middle of the Tuman River during his anti-Japanese armed struggle. He said as follows:

At that time the whole village came out to welcome me and my party. The elders, dressed in turumagi (a Korean overcoat for men), bowed low in front of me, calling me “General.” I managed to make them stand up. Then they knelt on the ground, one of them holding up a glass of liquor, saying that they wanted to offer it to me. I declined their offer, and asked them not to behave in such a way in front of a young man. However, they insisted, saying, “It is true that you are young, but how could ordinary people offer wine to a general while standing? It is against Korean courtesy.” I could do nothing but kneel down and empty the glass.

After telling his story, Kim Il Sung said in a soft tone:

“The reason why I have told you this story is because all of you are solemnly standing in total silence, without emptying your glasses. But I want to tell you that circumstances today are not like they were in the past, and this is the era when comradeship prevails.”

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