Meet the Kim's - A History of North Korea's 'Personality Cult' Dictatorship.
As the rhetoric increases and the MSM ramp up the fear porn, it's looking more likely that North Korea may be the next country targeted by the 'Forces of Freedom' for liberation from oppression. The Pyongyang power structure is indeed a brutal and oppressive regime however the last thing the world needs now is another Korean War.
For a number of reasons I'm convinced it will not come to that however just in case I'm wrong, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the history of the family that has managed to rule over North Korea unopposed for nearly 70 years. A family that now appears to be America's next target for regime change.
MEET THE KIM'S.
The Korean Peninsula is an incredibly strategic area. North Korea shares a 1420km (880mile) border with China, a 17km (11 mile) border with Russia the shortest international border and it is a short hop across the Korean straight to Japan.
It is for this reason that the western powers have an interest in the goings on of North Korea. If not for this proximity to two great economic and military rivals and one ally I'm pretty sure you'd almost never see any news regarding this closed country.
It is fairly well documented that the people of North Korea are suffering terribly when compared to the South Koreans who enjoy a much better standard of living, a standard comparable to the west.
Why would the people of North Korea put up with such terrible living conditions? How has this brutal dictatorship managed to keep hold of the reigns of North Korea for three generations?
The answer lies in the constant propaganda, brilliantly 'created' history and merciless brutality. The Noth Korean people have been subjected to this for over seven decades now. Is it any wonder they believe they are ruled by a divine family?
He started the Korean War in 1950 in an attempt to reunify the country with the South. However the war ended up in a stalemate after three years of fighting.
It was at this juncture that he started the 'personality cult' that led to him ruling for 46 years.
In this brilliant article from The Guardian we can see how it was achieved. Please take the time to read it all as it is fascinating to see the subtle propaganda and not so subtle used to achieve his aim of becoming a 'divine' leader.
The article starts....
In 1994, as it descended into famine, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) spent millions of dollars raising a ziggurat on top of the mausoleum of Tangun, the founder of the ancient Korean Kojoson dynasty. Despite other more pressing matters, the regime felt it had urgent reasons to commemorate the life of a man whose reign began in 2,333 BC.
Unlike later Korean kingdoms, Tangun’s capital was close to Pyongyang, not Seoul. And so, in 1994, as South Korea blazed ahead in the battle for economic and political legitimacy on the Korean peninsula, the North reached into the past to claim its own.
It was said Tangun’s father had come to earth from heaven near the holy Mount Paektu on North Korea’s border with China. And despite all evidence to the contrary, it was also claimed as the birthplace of North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-il, and its “founding father” Kim Il-sung’s base for his anti-Japanese guerrilla struggle.
When it came into being in 1948, official history writers dated Kim Il-sung’s Korea back to the year of his own birth. The now familiar Juche calendar, inaugurated in 1997, recalculated time from the year Kim Il-sung was said to have come to earth from heaven in 1912. Like some ancient creation myth newly minted, time itself began, or was renewed, with the birth of Kim Il-sung.
Equally importantly, in 1994 the renovation of Tangun’s Tomb coincided with another multi-million dollar renovation of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, in which the embalmed body of Kim Il-sung would be displayed, preserving him as the country’s Eternal President.
So as we can see very early in his reign he was rewriting North Korean history and his own. As soon as you see someone claiming to have come down from heaven you know you're in trouble! It's an interesting phenomenon how dictatorships throughout history and the world over have no problem spending vast amounts of money on extravagant building projects that immortalise their lives while the citizens suffer in abject poverty.
The rewriting of Korean history and that of his own life continued and was disseminated throughout North Korean 'education systems' until it becomes the truth to an oppressed populace. The scenes of grief displayed by a traumatised North Korean public on the death of Kim Jong Il in 2011 were a testament to the national psyche. Were they really that distraught? Or were they just too afraid to not be seen as devastated at the death of the 'glorious leader'? I suspect it was the first for some and the second for others. You can't brainwash everyone, can you?
Continuing with the article.....
To this day, the childhood hagiography of Kim Il-sung remains one of the key didactic tools of the North Korean state. The stories of his childhood resound from the walls of “Kim Il-sung Research Institutes” in schools, to the books children enjoy, to the texts electronically loaded on their Samjiyeon tablets.
He was born an ordinary man named Kim Song-ju on 15 April 1912, at the zenith of western and Japanese imperialism. In the first of his eight-volume memoir, he describes the era before his birth as a time of subjugation and national humiliation for the Korean race, and trumpets the new era of his guerrilla struggle.
Yet his birth also coincided with an omen of imperialism’s doom; it was the day the Titanic disappeared beneath the waters of the North Atlantic. In North Korea’s revolutionary cosmology, there is no such thing as chance. There is only destiny.
According to Kim Il-sung, his great-grandfather moved from North Jeolla Province, settling his family in Mangyongdae, then a village on the outskirts of the capital Pyongyang. For generations his family laboured there as farmers and grave keepers, and their suffering would come to symbolise the Korean nation under feudalism and Japanese imperialism. Kim describing them as “the epitome of the misfortune and distress that befell our people after they lost their country”.
In the memoir, Kim Il-sung’s childhood reminiscences lurch from affectations of modesty to statements of self-aggrandisement. In his preface, for example, the Great Leader claims: “I have never considered my life to be extraordinary.” Two pages later he declares: “my whole life… is the epitome of the history of my country and my people.”
Kim even insists it was his own great-grandfather who led the attack on the General Sherman when it sailed the Taedong into Pyongyang in 1866, achieving one of Korea’s first great victories against western economic and military might. Kim’s ancestors glories foreshadow the greater ones to come.
The greatest influence upon the young Kim Il-sung is said to be his father, Kim Hyong-jik. A charismatic teacher and self-taught physician, Kim Hyong-jik becomes a prophetic figure in the history of his nation, raising an heir who will return as saviour to a liberated homeland.
From this point the article goes deep into the back story of the family carefully laid out and disseminated to the North Korean people. Creating what could be considered a legendary story of heroism and self sacrifice on behalf of North Korea and it's people. All created to ensure the devotion of the masses and party officials, of course with a healthy amount of brutal oppression to ensure compliance. This ingenious back story made it so succession of the family line was assured. With the ground work done the succession of Kim Il-Sung's son Kim Jong-Il was inevitable.
Nicknamed 'The Dear Leader' Kim Jong-Il took control as 'Supreme Leader' of North Korea upon the death of his father in 1994.
He held many posts, amongst which included General Secratary of the Workers Party, Chairman of the National Defence Commitee and Supreme leader of the Korean People's Army which is the fourth largest standing army in the world.
Even though he had been designated the successor to his father in 1971 and undisputed heir apparent since 1991it still took three years to consolidate his power.
This article found at Biography.com gives a fantastic overview of the man although it was written during his lifetime and speaks of him in the present tense who took charge and led North Korea from 1994 until his much publisised death in 2011.
Born in either 1941 or 1942, much of Kim Jong Il's persona is based on a cult of personality, meaning that legend and official North Korean government accounts describe his life, character, and actions in ways that promote and legitimize his leadership, including his birth. Over the years, Kim's dominating personality and complete concentration of power has come to define the country North Korea.
Born February 16, 1941, though official accounts place birth a year later. Some mystery surrounds when and where Kim Jong Il was born. Official North Korean biographies state that his birth occurred on February 16, 1942, in a secret camp on Mount Paekdu along the Chinese border, in Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province, in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). Other reports indicate he was born a year later in Vyatskoye in the former Soviet Union.
His official government biography claims Kim Jong Il completed his general education between September 1950 and August 1960 in Pyongyang, the current capital city of North Korea. But scholars point out that the first few years of this period were during the Korean War and contend his early education took place in the People's Republic of China, where it was safer to live. Official accounts claim that throughout his schooling, Kim was involved in politics. While attending the Namsan Higher Middle School in Pyongyang, he was active in the Children's Union—a youth organization that promotes the concept of Juche, or the spirit of self-reliance—and the Democratic Youth League (DYL), taking part in the study of Marxist political theory. During his youth, Kim Jong Il showed an interest in a wide range of subjects including agriculture, music, and mechanics. In high school, he took classes in automotive repair and participated in trips to farms and factories. Official accounts of his early schooling also point out his leadership capabilities: as vice chairman of his school's DYL branch, he encouraged younger classmates to pursue greater ideological education and organized academic competitions and seminars as well as field trips.
Kim Jong Il graduated from Namsan Higher Middle School in 1960 and enrolled the same year in Kim Il Sung University. He majored in Marxist political economy and minored in philosophy and military science. While at the university, Kim trained as an apprentice in a textile machine factory and took classes in building TV broadcast equipment. During this time, he also accompanied his father on tours of field guidance in several of North Korea's provinces.
Rise to Power.
Kim Jong Il joined the Workers' Party, the official ruling party of North Korea, in July 1961. Most political experts believe the party follows the traditions of Stalinist politics even though North Korea began distancing itself from Soviet domination in 1956. The Workers' Party claims to have its own ideology, steeped in the philosophy of Juche. However, in the late 1960s, the party instituted a policy of "burning loyalty" to the "Great Leader" (Kim Il Sung). This practice of personality cult is reminiscent of Stalinist Russia but was taken to new heights with Kim Il Sung and would continue with Kim Jong Il.
Soon after his 1964 graduation from the university, Kim Jong Il began his rise through the ranks of the Korean Workers' Party. The 1960s were a time of high tension between many Communist countries. China and the Soviet Union were clashing over ideological differences that resulted in several border skirmishes, Soviet satellite nations in Eastern Europe were simmering with dissention, and North Korea was pulling away from both Soviet and Chinese influence. Within North Korea, internal forces were attempting to revise the party's revolutionary message. Kim Jong Il was appointed to the Workers' Party Central Committee to lead the offensive against the revisionists and ensure the party did not deviate from the ideological line set by his father. He also led efforts to expose dissidents and deviant policies to ensure strict enforcement of the party's ideological system. In addition, he took on major military reform to strengthen the party's control of the military and expelled disloyal officers.
I suspect that 'exposing dissidents' and 'expelling disloyal officers' was an exercise in extreme brutality for both the unfortunate souls and their families who were deemed to have gone against the regime. And I'm fairly sure that the 'revisionists' that sought to deviate from the party's ideological system were dealt a similar fate.
Kim Jong Il oversaw the Propaganda and Agitation department, the government agency responsible for media control and censorship. Kim gave firm instructions that the party's monolithic ideological message be communicated constantly by writers, artists, and officials in the media. According to official accounts, he revolutionized Korean fine arts by encouraging the production of new works in new media. This included the art of film and cinema. Mixing history, political ideology, and movie-making, Kim encouraged the production of several epic films, which glorified works written by his father. His official biography claims that Kim Jong Il has composed six operas and enjoys staging elaborate musicals. Kim is reported to be an avid film buff who owns more than 20,000 movies, including the entire series of James Bond films, for his personal enjoyment.
Kim Il Sung began preparing his son to lead North Korea in the early 1970s. Between 1971 and 1980, Kim Jong Il was appointed to increasingly important positions in the Korean Workers' Party. During this time, he instituted policies to bring party officials closer to the people by forcing bureaucrats to work among subordinates for one month a year. He launched the Three-Revolution Team Movement, in which teams of political, technical, and scientific technicians traveled around the country to provide training. He was also involved in economic planning to develop certain sectors of the economy.
By the 1980s, preparations were being made for Kim to succeed his father as the leader of North Korea. At this time, the government began building a personality cult around Kim Jong Il patterned after that of his father. Just as Kim Il Sung was known as the "Great Leader," Kim Jong Il was hailed in the North Korean media as the "fearless leader" and "the great successor to the revolutionary cause." His portraits appeared in public buildings along with his father's. He also initiated a series of drop-in inspections of businesses, factories, and government offices. At the Sixth Party Congress in 1980, Kim Jong Il was given senior posts in the Politburo (the policy committee of the Korean Workers' Party), the Military Commission, and the Secretariat (the executive department charged with carrying out policy). Thus, Kim was positioned to control all aspects of the government.
So here we have a man who has spent his whole life being trained to be a brutal dictator, University educated, skilled in the workings of the party, venerated as a fearless leader and aversed in the art of propaganda and media manipulation. The lot of the North Korean citizens was never going to get any better under his guidance, in fact it got worse. After all who was going to question his authority? The regime had been grooming him his whole life and citizens had been trained to see him as a divine leader. There was however one aspect of his leadership that wasn't polished, the military.
Unlike his father had no military experience at all, although this was not going to be allowed to become a stumbling block to his ascendancy to the leadership of North Korea.
The biography explains how he overcame this potential issue.....
With the assistance of allies in the military, Kim was able to gain acceptance by the army officials as the next leader of North Korea. By 1991, he was designated as the supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, thus giving him the tool he needed to maintain complete control of the government once he took power.
Following the death of Kim Il Sung in July 1994, Kim Jong Il took total control of the country. This transition of power from father to son had never been seen before in a communist regime. In deference to his father, the office of president was abolished, and Kim Jong Il took the titles of general secretary of the Workers' Party and chairman of the National Defense Commission, which was declared the highest office of the state.
The direction North Korea took under Kim Jong-Il's leadership is well documented, a more aggressive stance towards the West, missile tests and nuclear ambitions put the country on a collision course with the western powers. Towards the end of Kim Jong Il's reign as leader North Korea was well and truly on the way to being a serious nuclear power and a potential target for western instigated regime change.
Kim Jong-Il died in 2011 leaving the country grief stricken. The scenes of public mourning for the 'Dear Leader' were shown around the world and while western commentators speculated about the power structure being in disarray there was never any doubt that the reigns of North Korea was yet again going to be passed from father to son.
Kim Jong-Un took the reigns of power following the funeral of his father on 28th December 2011. Surprisingly little was known about the second son of Kim Jong-Il prior to his ascendancy to the top of the North Korean power structure.
Confirming his education history has proven difficult and it is unknown whether he attended an overseas school or University under a pseudonym.
He was however bred to take over the dictatorship from his father and grandfather before him in what was now without a doubt a family business. Western media have been replete with outlandish stories allegedly emanating out of North Korea which tell of a genius boy who could drive at three year so old and score 18 holes in one in a round of golf! Ridiculous to say the least and whether they are North Korean propaganda designed to impress the people to western propaganda to make the regime comical to the outside world, they are clearly not true.
Biography.com offer an insight into the what is known about North Korea's latest offering from the Kim family dynasty.
Much of the early life of Kim Jong-un is unknown to Western media. Presumably born in North Korea, Kim is the son of Ko Young-hee, an opera singer, and Kim Jong-il, who was the dictatorial leader of the country for over a decade until his death in 2011. Although Kim Jong-un has implemented some economic and agricultural reforms, human rights violations and brutal suppression of opposition have continued to be reported under his rule. He has also continued the country’s nuclear testing and what is believed to be the development of missile technology despite widespread international disapproval.
The birthdate and early childhood of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is shrouded in mystery. It is known that he is the third and youngest son of Korean military leader Kim Jong-il (also written Jong Il), who, under the Communist Worker's Party, had ruled North Korea since 1994; and the grandson of Kim Il-sung, his father's predecessor.
Kim Jong-un's mother was opera singer Ko Young-hee, who had two other children and is thought to have campaigned for Kim Jong-un to be his father's successor before her death in 2004. Kim Jong-il reportedly took a liking to Kim Jong-un, noting that he saw in the youth a temperament similar to himself. It is also thought that Kim Jong-un may have been educated abroad in Switzerland before attending the Kim Il-sung Military University (named after his grandfather) in the capital of Pyongyang in the mid-2000s.
Kim Jong-il began to prepare Kim Jong-un for succession to leadership in 2010. Upon his father's death in December 2011, Kim Jong-un assumed power. He was believed to be in his late 20s at the time.
Suppression of Opposition.
After Kim assumed supreme leadership of North Korea, he reportedly executed or removed many senior officials that he had inherited from his father’s regime.
Among those purged was his own uncle, Jang Song-thaek (also known as Chang Sŏng-t'aek), who is believed to have played an important role during Kim Jong-il’s rule and had been considered one of Kim Jong-un’s top advisers.
In December 2013, Jang was reportedly arrested and executed for being a traitor and plotting to overthrow the government. It is also believed that members of Jang's family were executed as part of the purge.
In February 2017, Kim's older half-brother Kim Jong-nam died in Malaysia. Although many details remained unclear, it was believed he was poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport, and multiple suspects were arrested.
Kim Jong-nam had been living in exile for many years, during which time he served as a vocal critic of his half-brother's regime.
As you can see when it comes to brutal oppression of any opposition Kim Jong-Un has carried on the family business with aplomb. With an uncle and a half brother paying the ultimate price for perceived treachery. As his reign continues it isn't hard to imagine that the body count will go up, after all isn't that what crime families do? They murder the opposition to protect the family business.
Suspected Weapons Testing.
Under Kim Jong-un's authority, North Korea has continued what are believed to be weapons-testing programs. Though agreeing in February 2012 to halt nuclear testing and to a cessation on long-range missile launching, in April 2012 the country launched a satellite that failed shortly after takeoff. Then, in December of the same year, the government launched a long-range rocket that put a satellite in orbit. The U.S. government believed that these launches are meant to cover up work and testing on ballistic missile technology.
In February 2013, North Korea held its third underground nuclear test. The act was roundly condemned by the international community, including the United States, Russia, Japan and China. In the face of further sanctions, analysts have stated that Kim's continued focus on armament while calling for U.S. peace talks is a strategy of positioning North Korea as a formidable entity and cementing his standing as a regional leader.
By September 2016, the country reportedly conducted its fifth underground nuclear test, despite a history of sanctions imposed by the U.S. Other countries staunchly denounced the move and called for North Korea's denuclearization, with South Korean president Park Geun-hye particularly concerned about the security implications of the continued weapons testing and Kim's mental state.
In February 2017, North Korea launched what its state media described as a medium long-range ballistic missile, with Kim said to be present at the site to supervise. The test sparked more outrage from the international community and calls for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting.
In the summer of 2012, it was revealed that Kim had taken a wife, Ri Sol-ju. While the couple's exact wedding date is unknown, one source reported it as 2009. In the months since the marriage was uncovered, the country's first lady has frequently appeared in the media—a striking departure from previous protocols. It has also been speculated that the couple have a child.
Kim Jong-un, part of the cyber-generation, is seen as having a more mediagenic style then his father, with the younger Kim having given a New Year's broadcast, taking in musical performances with his wife and being seen as more engaging with soldiers and workers.
He has also embraced more Western cultural tastes, notably highlighted when former American professional basketball player Dennis Rodman paid North Korea a two-day visit in February 2013.
During Rodman's stay, Kim accompanied him to watch a basketball game. Rodman claimed that he wanted to help improve relations between the United States and North Korea.
Now here we are in the back end of 2017 and the leader of North Korea is in a war of words with the leader of the USA, where will it go from here? The media are reporting daily on the hostile activities of the North Korean military and the US military has been performing military manoeuvres with the South Korean army just across the border.
Does anyone believe that the Kim Jong-Un will back down? Will Trump?
The situation in the Korean Peninsula is definately hotting up on a daily basis. It is my hope that cooler heads will prevail. The power structure in Pyongyang is ingrained and the Kim family won't go easy. They have the backing of a massive military and a brainwashed, downtrodden, oppressed population, many of which believe in the divine right of the Kim family to rule over them.
I suspect many would happily lay down their lives for their leader although I suspect there are many who wish for change but currently have no voice. I don't know what the answer is but I do know that another Korean War would be devastating to the country and the region and if North Korea are able to deploy WMD's the situation could go really bad really quick. If the people of North Korea are ever going to be free of this stranglehold the Kim family have on them then a very different approach is going to be be needed. I don't believe threats from the US or the UN will ever work.
It is my sincere hope that one day in the not too distant future we will see this horrific regime ousted, the Korean Peninsula unified and peace come to the region. Until that day we ALL need to hope that the situation calms down for if it doesn't we may well see a war begin that there is no coming back from.