Post War North Korea

Introduction   Kim Il-Sung's life to the Korean War   Reconstruction&Growth in the 1960s   North Korean Government-Juche  Badges&Personality Cult

1970sRise of military,The Blue House raid, USS Pueblo&Economic Downturn Sino-Soviet Split   1980s Rangoon Bombing-Seoul Olympics-KAL 858 Bombing   

North Korean Nuclear and Missle Program   Flood and Famine   North Korean Prison Camps   North Korean Armed Forces   The Collapse of the USSR

The Death of Kim Il Sung and Succession of Kim Jong Il   North Korea sinks South Korean navy ship   Death of Kim Jong-Il, succession of Kim Jong-Un

North Korean Economy and Currency   Traveling to North Korea   North Korean History Timeline   North Korean Links   Mass Games   Daily Life in North Korea

North Korean Propaganda Posters   North Korean Movies



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For its size of 120,538 sq km  ( slightly smaller than Nicaragua ) , population ( roughly 24 million, about the same as Ghana and Yemen ) and nominal GDP slightly less than Ethiopia , North Korea or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK ) exerts a weighty influence on world affairs . Its large army ( fourth in the world in terms of number of troops ),development of nuclear weapons and provokative actions make it a flashpoint for a regional or even a world war. How did this come to be ?


On July 27, 1953, there was a final burst of firing along the line, then the hills were quiet.  Both armies withdrew 2 kilometers, leaving a four kilometer wide DMZ. The Korean War was over. An official peace treaty, however, was never signed, and the two Koreas have technically been at war since 1950. North Korea had suffered an estimated 500,000 casualties and the country was devastated by American bombings. The North inherited a more industrialized country than the South, as the Japanese had located many industries in the North to help with the war effort. While many of these facilities were destroyed in the war, the basic groundwork remained. While the Chinese stayed out of internal domestic politics,they demanded management of the war. Peng Dehuai was reported to have said that the war was between him and MacArthur, and Kim  Il Song had no part in it. This of course irked the supreme North Korean leader, and in the Revolutionary museum in Pyongyang today there is not a single picture of  the Chinese contribution to the Korean War. The Chinese occupation force did not depart North Korea till 1958. American forces are still in South Korea till this day.


A huge oil refinery in Wonson bombed out in 1950. Much of North Korea devastated by American bombing.


After the war, Kim took control of North Korean politics, with the support of the armed forces, who respected his wartime record and long resistance to the Japanese. Pak Hon-yong, party vice chairman and Foreign Minister of the DPRK, was blamed for the failure of the southern population to support North Korea during the war and was executed after a show-trial in 1955. Pak had told Kim that 200,000 South Koreans would rise up after the invasion and overthrow the South Korean government. Most of the South Korean leftists who defected to the North in 1945–1953 were also accused of espionage and other crimes and killed, imprisoned or exiled to remote agricultural and mining villages. Most of the South Korean Communist were expelled from the party. There were some challenges to Kim Il Song's rule during and after the Korean War, but the coup leaders were disorganized. Kim systematically purged his political opponents to gain permanent and unlimited power. In theory Kim as premier reported to the legislature, in reality he was dictator, king for life, with more power than any Korean king ever held. He lived in luxury with at least five palaces in North Korea. The Workers' Party of Korea merged with other Korean Communist parties and  has remained ruling party in the DPRK since its foundation.


Documentary on North Korea

The winner of the 2001 International Emmy

award for Best Documentary


North Korea and South Korea Facts from CIA Fact Book


 North Korea militia trainees 2011


North Korean Population ( 2009 est) 24,051,218     South Korea Population 48,754,657  ( 2011 est )

North Korean GDP (2008 est) $28.2 billion 94th in world        

South Korean GDP $1.375 trillion ( 2009 est )  44th in world

North Korean GDP per Capita $1,800 (2009 est.)      South Korean GDP per Capita $28,300 ( 2009 est )

North Korean Land Area  120,538 sq km  ( slightly smaller than Mississippi )

South Korean Land Area 99,720 sq km ( slightly larger than Indiana )

North Korea's life expectancy was 63.8 years in 2009

South Korean Life Expectancy 79.05 years



Time Line of North Korea History  


April 15,1912

Kim Il-sung (birth name Kim Sŏng-ju ) born in Mangyongdae near Pyongyang

Feb 18, 1932

Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo proclaimed. Chinese in Manchuria organized volunteer armies to oppose the Japanese .


April 25, 1932


North Korea claims Kim Il-sung organized anti-Japanese guerilla unit in Manchuria Celebrated as the founding day of the Korean People' Army


Kin Il Sung joins Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army, organized by the Manchuria branches of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),later supported by the Soviet Union,fights Japanese at Pochonbo (1937)


June 4, 1937


Pochonbo raid against Japanese led by Kim Il-sung


Nov 1938


Kim Il-sung takes command of the Second Directional Army of the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army


Kim retreats to Soviet Union, trains in Soviet camps till the end of WWII., becomes captain in Soviet Army.

Feb 16, 1942

Kim Jong-il born

July 1945

Allies decide to divide Korea

Aug 9, 1945

Soviet Union attacks Japanese in Manchuria, advances in Korea to 38 parallel,

Aug 15,1945

Japanese surrender

Sept 19, 1945

Kim Il-sung returns to Korea from Soviet Union via boat at

Wonson, Soviets maneuver Kim Il Sung into power

Dec 17, 1945

Kim Il-sung becomes chairman of the North Korean branch of the Korean Communist Party

Feb 1946

Kim Il-sung becomes chairman of the North Korean Provisonal People's Committee

Oct 1, 1946

Kim Il-sung University founded

Feb 8,1948

Korean People's Army (KPA) established

March 31,1948

UN election, held only in the South

Aug 15,1948

Republic of Korea declared

Sept 9, 1948

Democratic People's republic founded, Kim Il sung becomes first premier

Dec 24,1948

Remainder of Soviet occupation force leaves Korea

June 25,1949

US troops leave Korea

June 30,1949

North Korean Worker's Party and South Korean worker's Party unite to form Worker's Party of Korea, Kim Il sung becomes chairman

June 25,1950

Korean War starts

Sept 15, 1950

Incheon landing

Oct 7,1950

UN forces cross 38 parallel

Oct 25 1950

Chinese troops enter Korea

June 27, 1953

cease fire agreement signed, ending fighting in Korean War, North and South Korea still officially at war

Dec 28, 1955

Kim Il sung delivers speech on Juche

Dec 1956

Chollima work teams method to increase production

Feb 1960

Kim Il-sung devises Chongsalli method for agriculture

Oct 1962

Kim Il-sung devises Taean method for industry

early 60s

North Korean economy stronger than South Korea due to investment in heavy industry, drastically increased military expenditures after brief Korean-Soviet split weakens economy

Sept 1961

Kim Il sung re-elected chairman


Taean work method promoted, populace to be trained in arms

Jan 16, 1968

North Korean commandos attempt to assassinate Park Chun Hee

Jan 23, 1968

USS Pueblo captured

April 15,1969

American EC-121 spy plane shot down, crew of 31 killed

Dec 25, 1972

Kim elected president

Dec 27,1972

new constitution proclaimed


South Korean GNP surpasses North Korea, South Korea starts and abandons nuclear weapons project under US pressure, North Korea begins to dig tunnels under DMZ, fuel and food shortages leads to greater crackdowns on dissent




Juche becomes official ideology of North Korea in 1972 constitution






Beginning of Red Cross talks


North Korea produces plutonium

Aug 18, 1976

Axe murder incident at DMZ


North Korea defaults on international loan repayments

Dec 1977




Kim re-elected president


Kim Jong-il orders the kidnapping of South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee and her ex-husband, director Shin Sang-ok



Kim Jong il promoted to 2nd highest position in the party


Kim's 70th birthday celebrated with the Arch of Triumph,Juche Tower and Kim Il sung stadium, Yongbyon gas grahite nuclear reactor sta

rted. As this type of reactors are used more for producing weapons than electricity, US and USSR alarmed. Soviet Union agrees to aid NK in producing light water reactors, which can't produce nuclear weapons. Collapse of Soviets prevents this.

Oct 9, 1983

Assassination attempt against Park Chung Hee in Rangoon,17 SK high officals killed

Oct 7, 1987

Korean Air flight 858 bombed, 115 killed


Seoul Olympics


Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with South Korea, Russia and China demand hard currency for fuel, food and other products. Severe power shortages result. America removes last nuclear weapons from South Korea. Free trade zones established.


Reported coup against Kim Il Sung by by Perestroika influenced generals. Plot uncovered and generals exected.


Kim Il Sung backs supports hard line coup in Soviet Union. Coup fails, Yeltsin cuts off aid and credit.





PRC recognises South Korea and cuts off aid to North Korea. demands market prices for goods and oil.



U.S. announces it will target NK with nuclear missles.North Korean announcement to withdraw from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. U.S. draws up plans to attack Yongbyon nuclear plant.

July 8, 1994

Kim Il Song dies of heart attack, son Kim Jong il becomes head of state, North Korea signs the Agreed Framework after Carter visits NK in which NK agrees to halt development ofof nuclear weapons in return building civilian reactors and oil supplies




Severe Floods, famine estimates of deaths as high as 2~3 million,North Korea $10 billion in debt, 50% of GNP


Kim Jong-il announces the 'military first' or (선군정치, Son'gun chŏngch'i policy

 Rise in power of military in NK.


Reported coup attempt against Kim Jong Il by army elements in famine hit North Hamgyong province. Exposed by Kim Yong Chun, who is promoted by Kim Jong Il to Vice Chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.



Sept 1996, North Korean commando submarine stranded in South,24 NK killed, 14 SK killed in firefights. 'Red Banner Philosophy' promoted in NK, emphasing defense of the Suryong (leader) and martial spirit and becomes more prominent than juche.



Defection of Hwang Jang-yop , prominent NK official and architect of juche



South Korean President Kim Dae jong establishes Sunshine policy to improve relations with the North, North Korea launches first satellite with a Taepodong-1 is a two-stage intermediate-range ballistic missile



George Bush refers to North Korea as part of the 'axis of evil'


April 2003

The Pong Su incident Australian Special Operations Command intercepted and boarded the Pong Su, a North Korean ocean freighter in Australian territorial waters. The ship was suspected of being involved in smuggling almost 150 kg (330 pounds) of heroin into Australia. An official of the governing Korean Workers' Party was found on board, linking the drug shipment to Kim Jong-il's government. Nuclear reactors reactivated, refuses to allow nuclear inspectors into country. Test firing of missile into Sea of Japan .



In reaction to the US invasion of Iraq, North Korea builds and detonates nuclear device on Oct 9,2006,



severe flooding in Aug, 2007, about 450 killed, more famine


South Korean tourist shot and killed at Kŭmgangsan Tourist Region suspendeds South Korea tourist travel to the region

Aug 2009

former President Clinton meets with Kim Jong-il to secure the release of 2 US journalists

March 26, 2010



Dec 17, 2011

South Korean corvette Cheonan sinks near North Korean border, South claims ship was torpedoed by North Korean miniature submarine.


Death of Kim Jong-il, succeeded by his third youngest son, Kim Jong-un.







North Korean posters




 North Korea travel guides

  explores every aspect of visiting North Korea,


Kim Il Sung

Suh has produced a first rate historical study of the North Korean leader, his life and his politics



Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty


This Is Paradise! : My North Korean Childhood"

This is Paradise!" is a shocking and moving portrayal of scenes of every day life in North Korea





Kim Il-Sung's life to the Korean War