Kim Il Sung - [Premier of North Korea]

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Kim.

Kim Il-sung
biography  biography


Kim Il-sung's official portrait
Eternal President of the Republic
Assumed office
8 July 1994
Leader of North Korea
In office
17 December 1945– 8 July 1994
Succeeded by Kim Jong-il
President of North Korea
In office
28 December 1972– 8 July 1994
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Position abolished
Prime Minister of North Korea
In office
9 September 1948– 28 December 1972
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Kim Il (as Premier)
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea
In office
11 October 1966– 8 July 1994
Preceded by Himself (as Chairman)
Succeeded by Kim Jong-il
Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea
In office
30 June 1949– 11 October 1966
Preceded by Kim Tu-bong
Succeeded by Himself (as General Secretary)
Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of North Korea
In office
28 August 1946– 30 June 1949
Chairman Kim Tu-bong
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Position abolished
Chairman of the North Korea Bureau of the Communist Party of Korea
In office
17 December 1945– 28 August 1946
GeneralSecretary Pak Hon-yong
Preceded by Kim Yong-bom
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born Kim Sŏng-ju
(1912-04-15)15 April 1912
Mangyŏngdae, Heian-nandō, Japanese Korea
Died 8 July 1994(1994-07-08) (aged82)
Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Resting place Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Pyongyang
Nationality North Korean
Political party Workers’ Party of Korea
  • Kim Jong-suk (died 1949)
  • Kim Song-ae
  • Kim Jong-il
  • Kim Man-il
  • Kim Kyong-hui
  • Kim Kyong-jin
  • Kim Pyong-il
  • Kim Yong-il
Residence Pyongyang, DPRKorea
Occupation Eternal President
Profession President of North Korea
Religion None (atheist)
Signature biography
Military service
  • biographySoviet Union
  • biography DPR Korea
  • Soviet Armed Forces
  • Korean People's Army
Years of service
  • 1941–1945
  • 1948–1994
Rank Dae wonsu(Grand Marshal)
Commands All(Supreme commander)
  • World War II
  • Korean War
  • Choi Yong-kun was previously head of state as the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.
  • Proclaimed "Eternal President of the Republic" after his death.
  • Formerly Presbyterian.
biography This article contains Korean text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Hangul and hanja.
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl 김일성
Hancha 金日成
Revised Romanization Gim Il-seong
McCune–Reischauer Kim Ilsŏng
Birth name
Chosŏn'gŭl 김성주
Hancha 金成柱
Revised Romanization Gim Seong-ju
McCune–Reischauer Kim Sŏngchu
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
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Kim Il-sung (pronounced[kim ilsʰʌŋ]; born Kim Sŏng-ju; 15 April 1912– 8 July 1994) was the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly referred to as North Korea, from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death. He was also the leader of the Workers' Party of Korea from 1949 to 1994 (titled as chairman from 1949 to 1966 and as general secretary after 1966). He authorized the invasion of South Korea in 1950, triggering a police action by the United Nations led by the United States. A cease-fire in the Korean War was signed on 27 July 1953.

His tenure as leader of North Korea was autocratic, and he established an all-pervasive cult of personality. From the mid-1960s, he promoted his self-developed Juche variant of socialist organisation, which later replaced Marxism-Leninism as the ideology of the state.

His son Kim Jong-il became his formal successor at the 6th WPK Congress, and succeeded him in 1994. The North Korean government refers to Kim Il-sung as "The Great Leader" (위대한 수령, widaehan suryŏng) and he is designated in the North Korean constitution as the country's "Eternal President". His birthday is a public holiday in North Korea and is called the "Day of the Sun".



Gaining power from the support of Soviet Union occupation authorities, Kim Il Sung helped establish the North Korean Communist Party in October of 1945. He was appointed official leader of Soviet Union occupation authorities, which put him in favor with the Soviet Union and gave him power from an important source. After a short time, this party merged with the New Democratic Party to form the Worker's Party of Korea. Though Kim Il Sung was not appointed chairman but vice chairman, the Soviets still supported him as the total leader. With their support, he soon took over. When Korea was officially divided, Kim Il Sung was against the idea. He allowed South Korea to establish the first government before following suit as a way of protesting the division. Kim established the Democratic People's Republic and assumed the position of its first Premier. Kim, like Syngman Rhee, believed in a unified Korea, but under a communist banner. Also like Rhee, he believed the choice method of unification was the military overthrow of the other's government. To achieve this goal, Kim Il Sung started developing a very strong military by enlisting 40,000 men for the Korean People's Army. These recruits were sent off to the Soviet Union and China for training.

After the Soviet Union and the United States removed all of their military personnel from Korea, leaving Kim in control, Kim Il Sung thought the time had come to attempt his reunification. United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson had also just declared that South Korea was outside the line of U.S. interest in Asia. That meant the U.S. might not support South Korea should the North Koreans invade. Armed with superior numbers and better weapons, including tanks, North Koreans marched across the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950. Contrary to the belief of the North Koreans, the United States responded quickly to the invasion by sending air and naval units on June 27. After fighting lasting roughly three years, a peace was agreed upon and the border between North and South was again set at the 38th parallel. Though the invasion eventually accomplished no gain of territory, Kim Il Sung continued to be belligerent to South Korea after the war even though his attempt at reunification failed.


June 25, 1950


One year after the Berlin Blockade (24 June 1948 – 12 May 1949) had been lifted, and two months before the invasion, Kim Il Sung met with Stalin in Moscow in April 1950. During those negotiations, the leader of the USSR said that

"due to the changing international situation"

he would agree to the Koreans moving towards unification. In this, what was implied was that the final agreement to this question must be decided together with the PRC; if China did not agree, the decision must be postponed.

Kim had been pleading for approval of an attack plan on the south ever since the formation of North Korea. Exactly why Stalin decided to finally acquiesces to the request can be stated in a single word, China.

Stalin had just just concluded sticking his finger in Truman's eye over Berlin, while at the same time because of the 1947 Truman Doctrine the Greek Communist Party had failed in their attempt to take over the government there. So it was time to do something else, short of all out war.



June 25, 1950 1235


Shortly after noon, at 1235, Premier Kim Il Sung, of North Korea, claimed in a radio broadcast that South Korea had rejected every North Korean proposal for peaceful unification, had attacked North Korea that morning in the area of Haeju above the Ongjin Peninsula, and would have to take the consequences of the North Korean counterattacks.

June 26, 1960

The preparatory work was completed by late June and the CCP Central Committee decided that the mission would be led by Liu Shaoqi, who was authorized to discuss with Stalin all important problems concerning the international situation and Sino-Soviet relations. He would introduce to Stalin the considerations underlying the CCP's policy line (especially the CCP's policy of including non-Communist democrats into the CCP-led People's Political Consultative Conference), convince Stalin that the Chinese Communists were not Titoists, and lead the Soviets to a better understanding of China's situation and the nature of the Chinese revolution. He would also pursue practical Soviet support for the Chinese Communist regime, including a guaranteed Soviet recognition of the new China and Soviet military and other assistance. If everything went smoothly, this mission would open the way for a personal trip by Mao to the Soviet Union in the near future.

Mao and the CCP leadership saw Liu's visit as a crucial step in establishing strategic cooperation with the Soviet Union. To guarantee the success of Liu's trip, Mao knew that he had to do something significant and noticeable. So it was not a coincidence that he issued his "lean-to-one-side" statement [6/30/49] only two days before Liu's delegation departed. When Mao praised the Soviet Union as the undisputed leader of the international progressive forces, he had sent out an unmistakable message to Stalin: Now Stalin had no reason to suspect that the CCP leadership shared the thinking of Titoism.

During the CCP delegation's stay in the Soviet Union, they held four formal meetings with Stalin and other top Soviet leaders, touching upon a series of crucial themes.

First, to the surprise and satisfaction of Liu and his comrades, Stalin apologized for failing to give sufficient assistance to the CCP during the civil war. According to Shi Z he's recollection, Stalin asked Liu in the second meeting: "Have we disturbed you [in China's civil war]?" Liu replied: "No!" Stalin answered: "Yes, we have been in the way of hindrance to you because our knowledge about China is too limited." Although Stalin's apology came in a private meeting, Mao and the CCP leadership were deeply impressed by it. Most important of all, CCP leaders viewed this as a clear sign of Stalin's willingness now to treat his Chinese comrades as equals. Later, many top CCP leaders, including Mao, Liu, and Zhou, mentioned Stalin's apology on different occasions, using it as a strong justification for the CCP's "lean-to-one-side" approach.

Second, Soviet authorities immediately took steps to avoid engaging the American forces. On June 26, Soviet ships that had sailed from Dairen were ordered “to return to their own defense zone immediately” and throughout the war Soviet naval vessels stayed clear of the war zone. Third, in an attempt to distance itself from the conflict, the Soviet government refused to approve the fervent requests of Soviet citizens of Korean nationality to join their fellow Koreans in defending their homeland against “the barbarous attack by the American imperialists.”

Third, Liu's visit produced a CCP-Soviet cooperation on the settlement of the Xinjiang (Sinkiang) problem, which was an important and substantial achievement for the CCP. As a strategically important region located in Northwestern China, next to Russian Kazakh, Xinjiang, its northern part in particular, had long been viewed by the Russians as their sphere of influence.

In the late 19th and early20th centuries, several bloody disputes emerged between China and Russia in Northern Xinjiang. After the triumph of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, V. I. Lenin's Soviet Russia acknowledged China's sovereignty over Xinjiang, but the Soviet Union had never fully given up its claim of interests there. In November 1944, a pro-Communist rebellion backed by the Soviet Union erupted in Tacheng, Ili, and Ashan, three northern most counties in Xinjiang, and had since controlled that area. When the CCP achieved decisive victory against the GMD in China's civil war in 1949, Xinjiang became one of few regions still controlled by the GMD.

During Liu's visit to the Soviet Union, Stalin told Liu that according to Soviet intelligence reports, the United States was planning to help Muslim GMD forces in northwestern China establish an independent Islam republic in Xinjiang, which, he believed, would be extremely harmful to both the CCP and the Soviet Union. He offered to use the Soviet-supported revolutionary forces in Northern Xinjiang to check the GMD so that it would be easier for the PLA to enter Xinjiang. Then Moscow helped the CCP Central Committee to establish direct contact with the revolutionary forces in Northern Xinjiang by assisting Deng Liqun, the CCP Central Committee's liaison person, to travel from Moscow to northern Xinjiang. Before the PLA finally took over Xinjiang in October 1949, the Soviet Union and Outer Mongolia became the central linkage of communications and transportations between the CCP Central Committee and CCP agents in Xinjiang.

Most important of all, in their meetings Liu and Stalin touched upon problems concerning the international situation and the division between the Chinese and the Soviets of responsibility in promoting the world revolution and Asian revolution. Stressing that a new world war was quite impossible in the near future and that the world revolutionary forces were marching forward and were much stronger than ever before, Stalin expressed the hope that the CCP would play a more important role in pushing forward the rising tide of world revolution, especially in East Asia. He made it very clear that he hoped to see the Chinese and the Soviets divide their spheres of responsibilities within the international Communist movement: while the Soviet Union would focus on the West, China would take more responsibilities in the East. Stalin stressed that he was not flattering the Chinese, but telling the truth. As the Chinese, Stalin believed, had greater influences upon colonial and semi-colonial countries in the East, it would be easier for China to help promote Eastern revolution than for the Soviet Union. Liu, on the other hand, emphasized to Stalin that the Chinese viewed the Soviet Union as the undisputed leader of the progressive forces of the world. He seemed very cautious in acknowledging before Stalin that China would become the center of the Eastern revolution (In Shi'smemoirs, he mentions that when Stalin suggested to toast for "the center of revolution moving to the East and China," Liu refused to make response). But Liu agreed that Communist China would try to contribute more in promoting revolutionary movements in Asia. We may fairly conclude that Liu's conversation with Stalin had produced a crucial consensus: while the Soviet Union would remain the center of international proletarian revolution, the promotion of Eastern revolution would become primarily China's duty.

There is no indication in Chinese sources available today that the Korean problem was involved in Liu's talks with Stalin. Several GMD and South Korean sources mentioned that during the spring, summer and fall of 1949,China, North Korea, and the Soviet Union conducted a series of secret exchanges on military cooperations between them in Northeastern China (Manchuria) and Korea. The CCP and North Korea, these sources alleged, signed a mutual defense agreement in March 1949, after the North Korean leader Kim Kim Il Sung's visit to the Soviet Union, according to which the CCP would send PLA soldiers of Korean nationality back to North Korea.

No Chinese sources can prove the existence of the alleged March 1949 agreement. In my interview with Yao Xu, a Chinese authority on the history of the Korean War, he firmly denied the possibility of such an agreement. But we do know now that in July and August of 1949, right around the time when Liu Shaoqi was in the Soviet Union, the164th and 166th Divisions of the PLA's Fourth Field Army, the majority of whose soldiers were of Korean nationality, were sent back to North Korea. Considering the fact that a close relationship existed between the Soviet Union and Kim Il Sung's North Korean regime and that the problem of promoting revolutionary movements in East Asia was one of the central topics of Liu-Stalin conversations, we have no reason to exclude the possibility that the Chinese and the Soviets had discussed such matters as China's support of the Korean revolution and sending PLA soldiers back to Korea during Liu's visit.