Kim Il-sung led North Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994, exercising autocratic power. During his tenure as leader of North Korea, he favored his self-developed Juche political ideology and established a pervasive and entrenched cult of personality. North Korea officially refers to Kim Il-sung as the "Great Leader" and he is designated in the constitution as the country's "Eternal President". Much of the early records of his life come from his own personal accounts and official North Korean government publications, which often conflict with independent sources. Nevertheless, there is some consensus on at least the basic story of his early life. Often North Korean sources place him as an "almighty spirit" that was born and died in human form, almost in a similar manner to Jesus Christ. Kim became interested in communist ideologies when was fourteen years old. His formal education ended at 17 when he was arrested and jailed for his subversive activities. Kim became the youngest member of an underground Marxist organization with less than twenty members, The police discovered the group three weeks after it was formed in 1929, and jailed Kim for several months.
In 1935 Kim took the name Kim Il-sung, meaning "become the sun." By the end of the Russo-Japanese war, although his division only captured a small Japanese-held town just across the Korean border for a few hours, his was name legendary. In 1931, Kim joined the Communist Party of China. When he returned to Korea he was installed by the Soviets as head of the Provisional People’s Committee. Kim constructed a large and skilled army and air force. This was made possible by arms provided by Stalin. After the South formally declared independence from the North, Kim Il Sung was appointed as the prime minister of "North Korea". North Korean troops invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950 intending to use force to unify the country under a communist government.
China reluctantly supported the idea of the war because Kim told Mao that Stalin had approved the action. North Korean forces captured Seoul and occupied most of the South, but were soon driven back by the U.S.counter attack aimed at keeping South Korea free. By October, UN forces had retaken Seoul captured Pyongyang, forcing Kim and his government to flee to China. With the help of Chinese troops the Koreans forced the UN troops to withdraw and Chinese troops retook Pyongyang and Seoul in 1951. Shortly the U.N. forces began a new offensive, retaking Seoul. After a series of offensives and counter-offensives by both sides and a grueling period of trench warfare, the front was stabilized along what eventually became the permanent DMZ in July 1953. As a result of U.S. bombardment few buildings were left standing in North Korea and by the time of the armistice, upwards of 3.5 million Koreans (North and South) had died in the conflict.
Restored as the leader of North Korea, Kim embarked on the reconstruction of the country devastated by the war. He established a command economy [Yah cause history shows that works], with all industry owned by the state and all agriculture collectivized [hmmm]. He was intent on eliminating class differences [oh]and the economy was based upon the needs of workers and peasants [wow]. The economy focused on heavy industry and arms production. [wouldn’t worry about a silly thing like food]
During the 1950s, Kim was seen as an orthodox Communist leader. He rejected the USSR’s de-Stalin-ization under Khrushchev because he felt it was in opposition to communism. He distanced himself from the Soviet Union, going so far as wiping any mention of his Red Army career from official history, and began reforming the country to his own radical Stalinist tastes. In 1956, emboldened by the de-Stalinization of the USSR others in North Korea began to criticize Kim, wanting their own reforms. After a period of indecision, Kim instituted a purge, executing many as traitors for suggesting reform. He began establishing an extensive personality cult, and North Koreans began to address him as "Great Leader" Kim developed the policy and ideology of Juche (self-reliance) rather than having North Korea become a Soviet satellite state.
In October 1980, Kim publicly designated his son as his successor. From about this time, however, North Korea encountered increasing economic difficulties. The practical effect of Juche was to cut the country off from virtually all foreign trade which naturally led to mounting economic difficulties.
North Korea repeatedly predicted that Korea would be re-united before Kim’s 70th birthday in 1982, and there were fears in the West that Kim would launch a new Korean War. But, by this time, the disparity in economic and military power between the (communist) North and the (capitalist) South made it impossible.
By the 1990s, North Korea was nearly completely isolated from the outside world. Its economy was virtually bankrupt, crippled by huge expenditures on armaments, with an agricultural sector unable to feed its population, but state-run North Korean media continued to lionize Kim. Kim Il-sung died suddenly of a heart attack in Pyongyang on July 8, 1994, leaving the failing state in the hands of Kim Jong-il.
Kim Jong-il, or "Dear Leader", as he is officially referred to, is currently the paramount leader of North Korea. Official biographers claim that his birth at Baekdu Mountain was foretold by a swallow, and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow over the mountain and a new star in the heavens.
His first order of business,after being appointed instructor and section chief to the Party Central Committee, was to put in place measures to ensure the Party's ideological system was rigidly enforced among the media, writers and artists. (no fox news for NorKor no siree…it is MSNBC 24/7)
At the time Kim assumed the title "Dear Leader" the government began building a personality cult around him like that of his father, "Great Leader." Kim Jong-il was regularly hailed by the media as the "fearless leader" and "the great successor to the revolutionary cause". Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son. His birthday is one of the most important public holidays in the country. On his 60th birthday, mass celebrations occurred throughout the country. It is said that he has the "magical" ability to "control the weather" based on his mood. Like his father, Kim has a fear of flying, and has always traveled by private armored train for state visits. The BBC reported that he had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day while en route. [Know anyone else with a taste for gourmet?]
In 1992, radio broadcasts started referring to him as the "Dear Father", instead of the "Dear Leader", suggesting a promotion. According to defectors , North Korea became even more centralized and autocratic under Kim Jong-il than it had been under his father. Although Kim Il-sung required his ministers to be loyal to him, he nonetheless sought their advice in decision-making; Kim Jong-il demands absolute obedience and agreement, and views any deviation from his thinking as a sign of disloyalty. (?hmm) Sources say Kim Jong-il personally directs even minor details of state affairs, such as the size of houses for party secretaries and the delivery of gifts to his subordinates (or salaries of auto and bank executives??).
By the 1980s, North Korea began to experience severe economic stagnation. Kim Il-sung's policy of juche (self-reliance) cut the country off from almost all external trade. A series of floods followed by droughts along with the isolationist policies in the late nineties led to an immense famine and left North Korea in economic shambles. Faced with a country in decay, Kim adopted a "Military-First" policy to strengthen the country and reinforce the regime. On the national scale, this has produced a positive growth rate for the country since 1996, and the implementation of "socialist-type market economic practices" in 2002 kept the North afloat despite a continued dependency on foreign aid for food.
In 2002, Kim Jong-il declared that "money should be capable of measuring the worth of all commodities." This gesture towards economic reform mirrors similar actions taken by China in the late 1980s (for those not up on Chinese History that is when they went from huts and bikes to apartments and scooters). During a rare visit in 2006, Kim expressed admiration for China's rapid economic [capitalist] progress. [Huh…Capitalism to the rescue!]
Hmmm let me see…collectivization, cult of personality, shutting down opposing viewpoints, obfuscating historical facts such as birthplaces and whereabouts and substituting official party line…destruction and demonization of profit, instituting programs that despite a growing economy leave people unable to survive… wow…where have I heard that…let me…see…oh wait…DAILY IN MY LOCAL NEWS!
People, all of these ideas have been tried over and over and over again. Country after Country decade and era after decade and era. THEY FAIL. EVERYTIME. How do we make people see this? Please tell me.