Kim Il Sung was the pseudonym for Kim Song Ju. He was born on April 15, 1912, at Mangyongdae, Pyongyang, to a poor peasant family. He and his family emigrated to Manchuria in the 1920’s like many Korean families did at the time. His family was a most patriotic and revolutionary one, and fought for many generations, from the beginning of the modern revolutionary movement of the Korean people for the independence of the country. He grew up receiving his revolutionary education at home, and acquiring a revolutionary outlook on the world through study and revolutionary practice. In Manchuria, he attended a Chinese school. He rallied young students around revolutionary organizations, and educated and trained them through struggles against the Japanese. He organized the Young Communist League of Korea on August 28, 1927, and was arrested and imprisoned for a year by the Chinese authorities for having done so. After his release from jail in 1930, he formed the first Party organization at Kalun with young communists of the new generation whom he had trained, and it was the first organization to be the glorious origin of the Workers’ Party of Korea which were formed later. Afterwards, he organized the Korean Revolutionary Army, which was the first armed organization of the Korean communists that fought against the Japanese military. In 1931, he left for the hills of eastern Manchuria to join a Chinese Communist guerrilla group fighting the Japanese military in Manchuria. On April 25, 1932, he founded the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, the first standing revolutionary armed force of the Korean people, and became its commander. Between the years 1932 to 1941, he led a band of Korean guerrillas against Japanese positions in Manchuria. It was during this time that he assumed the pseudonym Kim Il Sung, the name of a legendary resistance fighter that caused the Japanese a lot of trouble. In 1941, Japanese counterinsurgency forces forced him to leave Manchuria for the Soviet Union. He remained there, and came back to Korea in 1945. On August 15, 1945, he achieved national liberation from Japanese colonial rule. Having received direct Soviet encouragement, he strove to unify Korea into a communism. After the creation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948, not only did he became the head of the Korean Workers’ Party (unified political party of the working masses), but also became the Premier of the communist state (the Head of State). He made the fateful decision to launch a major military campaign to unify Korea under force of arms, and at 4 a.m. on June 25, 1950, he started the Korean War (a war between North Korea and South Korea). He led postwar economic reconstruction and the laying of the foundations of socialism with great wisdom. He also effected the agrarian reform, nationalization of industries and other democratic reforms, and thus victoriously carried out the revolution in the northern half of Korea in a short period of time. After the war, he continued the trend towards one-man rule. He succeeded in developing a cult of personality with himself to strengthen his authority. In the post Korean War years, he developed the idea of “Juche”, and ideology of self-reliance blended with Marxism, thus creating a distinct native Korean communism. And in 1994, at the age of 82, he died.
Kim Il Sung was an autocratic leader in many ways. In order to prepare for a future war, he made little kids learn military combat skill since they enter elementary school. It was mandatory for all men to serve the arm forces for ten years. People who had not serve the arm forces because of some reasons, or people who had not attended Kim Il Sung University were assigned the most dangerous and hardest jobs. Since no one was allowed to own a private property, they did not have the motivation to work. In order make people work, and strengthen the industries and agriculture, he created things called “A horse that can run 1000 Li/hr”, and “Seeing stars exercise”. “A horse that can run 1000 Li/hr” means that there is a horse that can run 250km/hr. He told people that this horse can run 1000 Li/hr because it runs with all its strength, and forced them to work intensely with all their strength. “Seeing stars exercise” means that you start working when the stars are out, and stop working until the stars are out again. He forced people to work every early in the morning when the stars are out till when it was dark again. He also severely punished or killed people who had religions (Ideology Criminals), people who opposed to his political opinions (Political Criminals), and people who criticized him. These people were not allowed to get married, nor have babies. And in many cases, in order to satisfy their lust, they had sexual intercourse with their family members. Kim Il Sung developed a system called “5 House Surveillance System”. It is a system that families of every five houses observe each other to see if there is any Ideology Criminal, Political Criminal, or anyone criticizing him. Any person who reported the Criminal to the authorities was rewarded, and was given more opportunity to become a member of the Party of Communist. Kim Il Sung also made people hang his picture in their houses. If his picture was crooked not dusted, or not hanged, they were accused of being a Political Criminal.
Once a one-man rule of his own was secured, Kim Il Sung also began to develop a personality cult in order to strengthen his authority. He had to make up stories that his forefathers were anti-Japanese fighters, and deify himself in order to make North Koreans believe him to be a man of great personality. In the days of the Japanese colonial rues of Korea, he never participated in real combats, although he was a Soviet army captain belonging to the 88 Special Reconnaissance Brigade. Yet, he claimed that for 15 years, he participated in more than 100,000 battles (over 20 battles a day) and won victories, even forging mystic stories that he turned sand into rice and crossed rivers on a leaflet as if he were an almighty deity. To justify his fabricated past, he appointed so-called revolutionary war sites (7 places) and historic sites (34 places) throughout all North Korea, and every year he urged all the people to make expeditionary marches to those places. He even ordered the building of over 40,000 Kim Il Sung’s Revolutionary Thought study rooms for the indoctrination of the people. Furthermore, he had over 70 bronze statues and over 20,000 plaster busts erected all over the country, and had more than 20 diverse kinds of Kim Il Sung badges manufactured and worn by the people according to their class. He designated his birthday as the greatest national holiday, and observed his birthday by spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Even after his death, the North Korean authorities had his body mummified and laid in a coffin at the super-deluxe Kumsusan Memorial Palace to prolong the personality cult under the pretext that he is immortal and imperishable.
Moreover, indoctrination programs designed to teach the people to worship him begin from nursery school. The curriculum of primary schools includes 304 hours of such indoctrination in two subjects, and that of senior high schools includes 567 hours in four subjects. Other textbooks such as Korean Language, Geography, and Nature are also full of contents designed to deify Kim Il Sung: about 40% of the entire content in primary school textbooks, and 43% of those in senior high schools. About 57% of music education in primary schools, and 48% of that in senior high schools are devoted music that promotes the worship of Kim Il Sung. Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang maintains 6 departments specializing in Kim Il Sung. They include the Department of Kim Il Sung’s Revolutionary History, and the Department of Kim Il Sung’s Works.
In conclusion, Kim Il Sung, through his leadership style, was able to rule his country for over 40 years, but there were also many negative consequences. His leadership was mostly based on “control” and “surveillance”. Although this made him a one-man ruler, there were many people who escaped to South Korea, and many people who wanted to kill him. Even the “real” creator of “Juche Ideology” ran away to South Korea. I think that this kind of leadership might work at first, but in the long run, will be disastrous and create negative consequences.