The death of Kim Il Sung and the Succession of his son

Kim Jong Il  ( Feb 16, 1942~2? - Dec 11, 2011 )

Would North Korea collapse ?



Kim Il Sung died on July 8, 1984 at age 84 of a heart attack, after inspecting a collective farm where the heat had reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit. He was found face down by his bed. Doctors were summoned, but they could not arrive fast enough due to the heavy rain. Many outside observers predicted North Korea would collapse under Kim Jong Il's reign as it was felt he lacked the broad appeal and charisma of his father, who was a war hero. Kim Il-sung's body was placed in a public mausoleum at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where his preserved body lies under a glass coffin for viewing purposes. Kim Il Sung 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".



 Kim Il Sung's quest to live to 100

Kim Il Sung's former physician tells Paula Hancocks about the

odd treatments administered to the founder of North Korea.



 Biography : Supreme Leader of North Korea , Kim Jong-il


Kim Jong-Il's Early Life


Kim Il-Sung met his future wife, Kim Jung Suk, also a resistance fighter during this years, whom he married in 1941, their son, Kim Jong-Il was born on Feb 16,1941. According to North Korean propaganda, Kim was born on sacred Mount Paektu, most likely he was born in Manchuria where his father, Kim Jong-il was a resistance fighter. Kim Jong-il's Russian name was Yuri Irenovich Kim and his nickname was Yura. Kim Jong-il was three when World War Two ended. After the war, the Soviets under Stalin placed his father in charge of the new North Korean state. Kim Il-Sung returned to Korea in September 1945. His wife, Kim Jong-Il, younger son Shura (Kim Pyong-il) and daughter joined him a few months later. Shura died tragically a few months later in the pool, according to some, possibly while playing with Kim Jong-Il. Kim Jung-Suk died in 1949 of tuberculosis or, according to some sources, during childbirth.When the Korean War started, Kim's father sent Kim Jong-il and his sister, Kim Kyung-Hee, were sent to China for safety. Kim Jong-il and his sister became very close during these years became a close confidant of Kim's in his adult years.



 Video of a young Kim Jong IL


When the war ended, the young Kim Jong-il returned to a devastated country. According to North Korean sources, the young Kim was a natural leader and active in many Communist youth organizations. According to other accounts, he is described as a bully in his youth and disrespectful and arrogant toward elders since he was the young 'prince.' Kim attended a high school for the elite and sometimes rode to school on a motorcycle and was keenly interested in automobiles and engines, farming and especially movies. by the time he was in high school, he was attending meetings with his father, eager to learn about government.


After graduating from high school, he attended pilot school in East Germany from 1951-60. Perhaps this was at the urging of his father, to overcome his fear of flying, which continued into adulthood. Whether he learned to fly or not is not known. He returned to Korea in 1962 to finish his college education. Kim entered the Political and Economics department of Kim Il-Sung University. Despite attending a university named after his father, he was said to have been a dedicated student, spent time working in a textile mill and was involved in military exercises and ate with his fellow students. According to North Korean propaganda,never shy to make their leaders seem godlike, Kim wrote hundred of books and speeches during this time. According to other sources, Kim spent a good amount of time drinking and chasing the ladies and was addressed as the Premier's Son and escorted by body guards. He was tutored by the top professors in their fields of study and many of his paper were written by others. Kim often went with his father on government tours and tried hard to win his father's respect. In 1963 or 64, he graduated with a degree in political economy.


 Life After Graduation



 After graduation, he worked with the central committee of the Korean Workers Party and became a senior official in the propaganda department. Kim married his first wife, Hong IL-Chun in 1966 and were divorced in 1971. Reportedly, he had a relationship with a North Korean movie actress, Sung Hae-Ran and in 1971 she gave birth to a son. Sung began to suffer from nervous disorders and died in Russia while seeking treatment in 2002. His father did not approve of this relationship and ordered his son to marry Kim Young-Suk, the daughter of a military official .She bore him a daughter, Kim Sol-Song.  One of his first films , Five Guerilla Leaders, about his father's anti-Japanese activities, was produced in 1967. Some Kim's former body guards of the have described him as a heavy drinker and smoker, which probably contributed to his later strokes. Kim is also said to have received English language education at the University of Malta in the early 1970s .



 Kim Jong-Il: The Forbidden Biography 1/4



 Kim Jong-Il: The Forbidden Biography 2/4



 Kim Jong-Il: The Forbidden Biography 3/4



 Kim Jong-Il: The Forbidden Biography 4/4

Groomed for Succession - Coup Attemps


Despite the fact the he was his father's first son, Kim was not a given that he would become a political successor. There was his father's brother, Kim Yong-Ju, his half brother Kim Pyong-Il and his stepmother, Kim Song-Ae, whom he reportable despised. His uncle appeared to be first in line as Kim IL Sung's successor. Kim and the uncle tried to outdo each other in the promotion of the Kim Il-Sung personality cult. Through political maneuvering, Kim was able to oust his uncle's supporters over time.

According to some who have defected, Kim had up to 13 children from wives and girlfriends. In 1991, Kim was appointed supreme commander of the Korean People's Army.


There were two coup attempts against the Kims. One was reported in 1991 or 1992 by Perestroika influenced generals. A group of about a dozen generals planned to assassinate the two Kims and start a radical modernization of North Korea. At the time Kim Il Sung had backed the failed Soviet hard line coup in the Soviet Union. But the plot was discovered, and the plotters executed . According to some defectors the plotters were burned at the stake before a military audience as a warning .


The second coup attempt was reported a year after Kim Jong Il assumed power in 1995 by elements of the army in North Hamgyong province, which had been hard hit by the famine. The plot was uncovered by 6th Corps commander, Kim Yong Chun and hundreds of army personal were reported to have been executed or sent to prison camps .Kim Yong Chu was rewarded by Kim Jong Il and made Vice Chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.



The Failed Assassination of Kim Jong-il

 With the assistance of the Human Rights Foundation, North Korean defectors now in South Korea have been launching hydrogen-filled balloons across the 38th parallel — carrying both money and propaganda. In late 2014, a balloon launch sparked a brief exchange of gunfire between North and South Korean soldiers, and even more recently, Pyongyang has promised that hellfire will rain on South Korea if any copies of the controversial Hollywood comedy The Interview make it across the border.

VICE News correspondent Michael Moynihan speaks with a former lieutenant of the North Korean People’s Army about a failed assassination attempt on Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong Il Assumes Power


After he took power after his father's death in 1994, Kim kept a low profile for three years. In keeping an official three year mourning period. Kim took the title as secretary General of the North Korean Workers Party in 1997. Kim had been known as the 'Dear Leader' prior to his father's death and took his father's title as 'Great Leader.' His father was given the title ' Eternal Leader.' Kim Il-Sung had been about 5 feet 6 inches tall. Kim Jong-Il was about 5 feet 2 inches tall. Kim increased surveillance of his party officials and often encouraged officials criticize each other in meetings. While his father would often meet with senior officials to determine policy, even if it was just for show. The younger Kim did away with this and made all the decisions .

Korea became even more cut off from the rest of the world, where the Soviet Union had recently collapsed. Also better to keep the public in the dark about his eight palaces,retreats , fast cars, personal yacht, expensive liquors and flown in high priced escorts. This is in marked contrast to the average North Korean, who earns about $700 a year. With the fall of the Soviet Union , Russia demanded cash payments, massive floods followed years of severe drought, with severe famine following. By the early 1990s, North Korea was isolated from the outside world, except for limited trade and contacts with China, Soviet Union/Russia, Vietnam and Cuba. The average life expectancy of North Koreans dropped from about 73 years to 66 years. Despite this, military spending increased to a quarter of the nations GDP as Kim promoted a military first policy (선군정치, Son'gun chongch'i) in order to keep the regime in power.



Kim is famous for his passion for films and is said to have a movie library of over 20,000 titles. In 1978, on Kim's orders, South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee were kidnapped in order to build a North Korean film industry.However, he proved to be a more capable leader than expected . The secret police kept the populace in line and the number of executions were increased. As Kim Il-Sung was elevated to 'eternal President' Jong Il's official position is that of Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea. His health become an issue after suffering two strokes since 2008.



 Pulgasari (1985) North Korean Giant Monster film with english subtitle

Pulgasari is a North Korean feature film produced in 1985, a giant-monster film similar to the Japanese Godzilla series. It was produced by South Korean director Shin Sang-ok, who had been kidnapped in 1978 by North Korean intelligence on the orders of Kim Jong-il, son of the then-ruling Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il produced Pulgasari .


Is North Korea viable long term or will it collapse as the other Communist states have. Will it go the way of China with a more market driven economy ? In the early 90s many pundits were predicting North Korea's collapse, but it stubbornly refused to do so. Collapse seemed inevitable, but what would be the straw to break the camel's back ? Could there be a coup attempt and civil war ? Will it be a hard or soft landing ? The state police seem to have kept a lid of things so far, but reports of rioting would be suppressed in North Korea. Is Knowledge of the luxurious lifestyle of communist party elite common knowledge in North Korea ?


The key players in keeping North Korea afloat are South Korea and China, afraid of the choas and refugees flight that would ensue a collapse. The feared expense of absorbing North Korea along East German lines has kept South Korean aid flowing . There could be no regime change without support of the military, which still supports Kim. North Korea still holds to the songun (military first) policy.

The power of the Korea People's Army has risen significantly since Kim Jong-il took over the country. there have been at rumors of at least two coup attempts against the Kims. The first was reported to be in the early 90s by general who trained in the Soviet Union and were influenced by perestroika and planned to assassinate the two Kims and institute major reforms. The plot was discovered and according to some reports were burned alive in front of other generals as a warning .

The second coup attempt was reported to have occurred in 1995 by officers in one of the hardest hit famine areas. The group planned to march on Pyongyang, but was betrayed . Some speculate a massive train explosion in Ryongchon in 2005 hours after the passage of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il could have been a coup attempt. While it is impossible to know if a coup is in the works now, 130 North Korean generals have left North Korea for China in recent years .


North Korean 'sex spy' jailed in South BBC Oct 15, 2008



The song No Motherland Without You, sung by the North Korean Army Choir, was created especially for Kim and is one of the most popular tunes in the country. English lyrics.No Motherland Without You is a North Korean song dedicated to the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011. Although not the national anthem, it is seen as the anthem of Songun (military first) politics, created by Kim Jong-il to expand on Juche.



The story of the American defector to North Korea, Joe Dresnok.  



U.S. Army defector Charles Robert Jenkins as the evil Dr. Kelton (the man behind the Korean War) in episode of 20 of "Nameless Heroes" (aka "Unsung Heroes"), a North Korean television epic that ran from 1978-1981. Jenkins left North Korea in 2004, 41 years after he crossed the DMZ. Contrary to some reports, Kim Jong-Il did not direct "Nameless Heroes."



 Report on North Korean counterfeiting. North Korea is accused of making superdollars as well, counterfeit bills that are superior to real ones to be able to tell them apart.The U.S. Secret Service estimates that North Korea has produced $45 million in superdollars since 1989. North Korea was able to make the notes after buying advanced high-speed banknote presses in the 1990s .



 1988 to the collapse

of the USSR

in 1991


 1990s North Korean Nuclear and Missle Program

  Flood and Famine   

North Korean Prison Camps