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The Kim Dynasty and North Korea

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North Korea’s Kim Dynasty

Introduction

Monarchism is a form of government where a sovereign state or country is ruled and controlled by a person who inherits the throne by birth (Downes Paul 23). The individual either rules for life or until abdication. A dynasty is a sequence of rulers from the same family in a monarchial system. The King Jong-Un Dynasty of North Korea is a typical example of existing regimes in the world. The Kim dynasty is also referred to as the Mount Paektu Bloodline. It is a three-generation lineage of leadership in North Korea that started in 1948. The three leaders are Kim II-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un. North Korean governance is different from the governance of other communist nations and is identical to that of royal families. The communist dynasty has been in power for more than 70 years, and more brutality saga has characterized their tenure. The King Jong-Un dynasty has a power hold over the country of North Korea.

Taking Control of North Korea

Kim II-Sung took control of North Korea at the end of the Cold War in 1946. He was selected by Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union to fight against (“How Kim Jong-un’s family picked by Russia to lead and threaten America.”). In the 1930s, King II-Sung went to the Soviet Union to train with Joseph Stalin’s army during the war against Japan. The war has occupied the Korean Peninsula since 1910. Being a heroic soldier during the war, he gained the trust of Stalin. As a result, Stalin installed him as the Communist leader in the North after the Soviet Union conquest of the Peninsula in 1945. During the initial stages of his tenure, he succeeded in convincing Stalin and Mao Zedong that he could extend communism by conquering countries in Northeast Asia. Mao Zedong was the chairman of the Communist Party of China.

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In 1950, June 20, Sung started a war with South Korea that took three years (“Kim II-Sung.” Biography.com). During the war many people lost their lives including 520,000 North Koreans, 33,650 Americans, and 415,000 South Koreans. (“How Kim Jong-un’s family picked by Russia to lead and threaten America.”). Sung remained a merciless and an obstinate enemy even in the Cold Peace period that followed the war. He coordinated the capturing of Pueblo a United States intelligence ship that sailed into her waters. The ship’s crew was held hostage for 11 months.

Kim II-Sung’s obstinate acts continued after the war. In 1988 he planned to assassinate South Korea head of state, Chun Doo Hwan, in Burma. The bomb killed 17 officials belonging to the South Korean government although it failed to kill South Korea’s head of state. A group of terrorists from the North blew up an aeroplane, KAL Flight 858. The terrors attack claimed the lives of 115 people. Back in North Korea, Sung practiced his authority using military help (“How Kim Jong-un’s family picked by Russia to lead and threaten America.”). Luckily, he had a strong 1 million-man army thanks to the assistance he received from the Soviet Union and China.

Simultaneously, he governed the country through his self-branded ideology referred to as Juche or self-reliance. In 1972, a new constitution made Kim II-Sung, a one-man ruler. He named his son, Kim Jong II, as his heir two years later (“How Kim Jong-un’s family picked by Russia to lead and threaten America.”). His authority began to erode when the Cold War ended. The Soviet Union under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev started peace talks with South Korea and ceased to support North Korea. China also lessened its support for Sung because of his unwillingness to take into consideration a section of economic reforms adopted by Beijing in the 1980s.

The Kim Dynasty Family

Kim II-Sung is the first person in the Kim dynasty. He was born on April 15, 1912, in Mangyondae. (“North Korea: A Family Tree of the Kim Dynasty.”). He emerged a strong guerrilla soldier against the Japanese occupation and also alongside the Soviet Union army during World War II. As a result, he is still celebrated not only as the “Ever-Victorious Generalissimo” but also as “The Great Sun of Life” in North Korea (“North Korea’s secretive ‘first family'”). He is the founding father of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Kim Jong Suk, the mother of Kim Jong II, is the first wife of Kim II-Sung. She is applauded as North Korea’s archetypal revolutionary and communist wife (“North Korea: A Family Tree of the Kim Dynasty.”). According to sources, Kim Jong Suk was excelled in both combat and maternal duties. She was good at fighting, riding horses, and shooting rifles in battle and she also excelled in sewing, preparing food, and respecting her authoritative husband. Kim Jong Suk died in 1949 at the age of 29 years.

Kim Jong Suk had only one daughter, Kim Kyong Hui. Kim Kyong Hui played essential roles in the politics of North Korea during the reign of his brother King Jing II. She was promoted to a four-star general and became the first woman in North Korea to achieve such status. Her political interference is associated with Ki Jong Un rise to power in 2011 after Kim Jong II passed away (“North Korea: A Family Tree of the Kim Dynasty.”). She actively retired from the politics of the nation in 2013 when Kim Jong Un stripped his influential husband, Chang Song Thaek, of all his post in the government, expelled him from the Worker’s Party and executed him.

Little is known about the life of Kim Jong II because of his father’s cult personality. He was given birth to in a military base on Mount Paektu on February 16, 1941(“North Korea: A Family Tree of the Kim Dynasty.”). King Jong II ruled North Korea from July 1994 to December 2011. King Jong II married Song Hye Rim, a former North Korean actress. In 1971, she gave birth to Kim Jong Nam. Kim II-Sung learned about his grandson four years later. He refused to approve the relationship. She moved to Russian in the 1980’s to seek medical care and then defected to the United States. She died in 2002.

Kim Jong-II, later on, married Kim Young-Sook as his first wife. She gave birth to a girl, Kim Sul-song. He, later on, married a second wife Ko Yong-Hui (“North Korea: A Family Tree of the Kim Dynasty.”). Together, the couple gave birth to Kim Jong Chui, Kim Jong-Un, and Kim Yo-Jung. Kim Jong-Un succeeded his father in 2011. He is the youngest son of King Jong II. Jong-Un married Ri Sol-Ju between 2009 and 2010. They have two children, a boy, and a girl. The boy is expected to succeed his father when he comes of age. The family is very secretive and little is known about the wife and the kids.

Kim II-Sung Early Life and Elevation to Power

Kim II Sung was given birth to in Japanese-occupied Korea. His parents named him Kong Song-Ju. Sources assert that they were anti-Japanese activists (Szczepanski). Due to the Japanese invasion and famine, Kim II-Sung and his parents relocated to Manchuria in 1920. (“Kim Jong-Un.” Biography.com). At the age of 14 years, Kim II-Sung became a member of the anti-Japanese resistance while living in Manchuria. At the age of 17 years, he became interested in Marxism (Szczepanski). As a result, he joined a communist youth group. Two years later, he joined the anti-imperialist Chinese Community Party (CPP) mainly because of the hatred he has for the Japanese.

In 1935, Kim joined the Anti-Japanese United Army, a guerrilla group in Northeast Asia manned by the Communists from China. Kim was guided by his superior officer Wei Zhengmin who took him under his wings. In the same year, Kim Song-Ju changed his name to Kim II-Sung after a famous guerrilla fighter (Szczepanski). After one year Kim was put in charge of a small group of several hundred guerrilla soldiers. His group shortly invaded and captured a small town along the Korea Chinese border from the Japanese (Szczepanski). This conquest made him famous in the army and the Chinese Communist group. Japan strengthened its army and conquered some parts in China, pushing Kim and his division into the Soviet Union. Szczepanski asserts that the Soviet military received the Koreans, trained them and put them into a division of the Soviet’s Red Army. He was made a major in the Soviet’s Red Army. He led his division of the army in World War II.

In 1945, Japan surrendered to her enemies, and the Soviet army moved into Korea and occupied half of the Korean Peninsula in the north. Kim II-Sung returned to Korea in 1945. The Soviets appointed him as the chairperson of the Provisional People’s Committee. He the established the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and started consolidating power in the north. Kim II-Sung formed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and made himself the country’s premier (Hjelmgaard). He began developing his cult in North Korea, and with the help of the Soviet Union, he created his army. In 1972, Kim II-Sung made himself the president of Korea. During his tenure, King II-Sung made every Korean citizen to put on a pin having his image and keep them in their homesteads. Kim wanted to combine Korea into a united country. However, his attempt to unit Koreans led to a war that lasted for three years. The war further divided the Koreans and increased the animosity between them. Kim II-Sung succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 82 years (“Kim Jong-Un.” Biography.com). His son, Kim Jong-il took over in 1994.

The Reign of Kim Jong-II

Upon succeeding his father as the head of state of North Korea, Kim Jong- II referred to himself as the country’s “Dear Leader” and the head of North Korea’s National Defense Commission (Hjelmgaard). Kim Jong-II was the first communist leader in the world to inherit power. His secretive personality has even stretched to his place of birth. Some sources claim that he was born in the former Soviet Union. According to official sources, he was born in a small village situated in North Korea. His portrait also hangs beside that of his father in every North Korean household and building.

Kim Jong-il had the typical looks of Hollywood stars. He often put one elevator shoes, bigger sunglasses, and had a bouffant hairstyle. Mr. Kim Jong-il was obsessed by film. He coordinated the kidnapping of a film director and an actress from South Korea to make a domestic film industry to praise the country (Sanger, Falk). He had more than 20,000 copies of foreign films including James Bond Series, his best. The two professionals, later on, escaped North America with the help of South Korean soldiers (Falk). Kim Jong-il barely traveled to foreign countries except for China.

Under his tenure, the economy of North Korea worsened, and its isolation from other countries deepened. Mr. Kim made strategic moves to amend North Korea’s isolation policy (Falk). During the late 20th century and early 21st century, King Jong II improved his relations with several countries. Through diplomatic negotiations with the United States, King Jong-il was able to acquire fuel for his country (Falk). The 1994 agreement was between the United States and North Korea was dubbed the “Agreed Framework.” The U.S agreed to provide North Korea with enormous amounts of oil, and in return, North Korea was to rip to pieces nuclear program in the Yongbyon plant that was full of radioactive substances. Jong II mismanaged the economy. This mismanagement led to a four-year famine in North Korea from 1994 to 1998. The famine claimed the lives of between 240,000 and 3.5 million people who starved to death (Falk). The famine was caused by incompetence in the government and natural disasters.

To make peace, Mr. Kim ceased long-range testing missiles in 1999 after the U.S decided to ease economic sanction against the country (Falk). He then met with Kim Dae-Jung, South Korean leader in June 2000 to ease their differences. The first meeting between the two leaders paved the way for a reunification agreement between the two countries. North Korea also established relationships with Italy and Australia.

The Agreed Framework began crumbling when North Korea emerged reluctantly in adhering to the agreement terms. North Korea’s relationship with the U.S fell apart when George W. Bush termed Mr. Kim’s tenure as a facet an “axis of evil.” Under the leadership of Kim Jong-il, North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The country started to create nuclear weapons (Falk). The relationship between North Korea and South Korea hit a crisis in 2010 when North Korea deliberately sunk a South Korean warship called Cheonan and military combat in the Yeongpyeong Island that left two South Korean marines dead.

In 2008, rumors spread that Mr. Kim’s health was worsening following his absence from the public for a couple of months (Falk). It is being said that he suffered a stroke. By the following year, the North Korean politicians initiated moves to make Kim Jong-Un, Kim Jong’s son, as the successor. Kim Jong died on December 19, 2011.

The Reign of Kim Jong-Un

Kim Jong-Un was born on January 8, 1983, and he is the second son of Kim Jong-II (Tarabay). Jong-Un went to school in Switzerland where he studied both German and French languages (Bowden). He also went to a private International School under a different name (Becker 57). He was shy in school and his elder brother, Kim Jong-Chul who always protected him from bullying. He joined Kim II- Sung Military University.

Kim Jong-Chul being the eldest son had been the favorite successor of his father. He was caught by the authorities in 2001 attempting to enter Japan using fake documents. This incidence jeopardized his chances of succeeding his father (Becker). In 2017, he was assassinated in Malaysia with North Korea’s government agents. The two women assassins covered his face with a poisoned cloth. He died on his way to the hospital.

In 2009, Jong-Un contested in an election, but he did not make it to the list of lawmakers. Nonetheless, his position in the National Defense Commission was elevated. In the same year, it became clear to foreign diplomatic organizations that Jong-Un was going to succeed his father as North Korea’s de facto leader and as the chairman of the Worker’s Party. North Koreans working in foreign embassies were asked to pledge their loyalty to Kim Jong-Un (Becker). North Koreans were encouraged to sing songs of praise for Jong-Un just as they did for the first two leaders.

Kim Jong-Un is currently North Korea’s supreme leaders and the head of the Worker’s Party in the country. He assumed office in 2011 following the death of his father. Jong-Un is the youngest son of King Jong-Un. Upon assuming power in 2011, Kim Jong-Un’s government has reportedly purged and executed many top government officials (“Kim Jong-Un.” Biography.com). His uncle Jang Son-Thaek who was also his mentor and one of the top government officials is among officials that have been assassinated since Jong-Un inherited North Korea’s leadership. Jang was accused of plotting to overthrow the government. His family members were also killed. He also removed or executed several senior officers that were appointed by his father to serve North Korea.

Kim Jong-Un started carrying out it weapon-testing programs. North Korea started launching satellites and long-range missiles in 2012 although she had ceased conducting nuclear testing and launching missiles (“Kim Jong-Un.” Biography.com). The satellite failed to work soon after it took off. In the same year, North Korea propelled a long-range rocket into space, but it also failed to work. North Korea continued testing weapons. In 2013 she tested an underground nuclear weapon. Russia, China, and Japan among other countries condemned the act. The country conducted four more underground nuclear tests by September 2016. It also launched a long-range ballistic missile in 2017.

The weapon testing program attracted the attention of the United States. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un have exchanged warfare threats over the past few months. Mr. Trump stated that North Korea would be taken care of. Nonetheless, North Korea has pledged to continue with nuclear activities as long as the U.S and North Korea united in carrying out military exercises (“Kim Jong-Un.” Biography.com). North Korea jeopardized its relationship with the International community in 2017. This was after she launched the Hwasong-15 missile . The missile reached a record altitude of 2,800 miles above the ground. This missile proved that North Korea would hit any part of the world with just a click of a button. These North Korean actions led to denuclearization talks in the world.

North Korea and a South Korean representative met at a village between the borders of the two countries in an attempt to develop ties. This was their first meeting in two years. It led to the agreement that North Korean athletes would take part in the Winter Olympics that took place in February 2018 (Madden). A delegation consisting of athletes, cheering squads, and art performance groups from North Korea took part in the event (Madden). Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of Jong-Un, attended the competition and made history as the first member of Kim’s dynasty to ever step foot in South Korea (Madden). After the Olympics, President Moon sent two of his top assistants to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jong-Un. North Korea agreed to denuclearize herself during the meeting. The leaders also agreed to meet the United States President Donald Trump.

Conclusion

In retrospect, the Kim dynasty has been ruling North Korea from 1946 to date. The country has been governed by three leaders Kim II-Sung, Kim Jong-II and Kim Jong-Un. King II-Sung ruled North Korea from 1946 to 1994, Kim Jong-II took over and ruled the country between 1994 and 2011. Kim Jong-Un assumed office in 2011 and is currently North Korea’s supreme leader. Kim II-Sung was an excellent guerilla soldier, and he even took part in World War II alongside the Soviet’s Red Army. After the war, the Soviets installed him as the ruler of the North. He quickly established an army and started consolidating power over the North. Kim II-Sung went a step further and created the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Sung married Kim Jong-Suk. She excelled in both maternal and combat activities. She gave birth to Kim Jong-II who later on succeeded his father as the leader of North Korea. Kim Kyong Hui, Jong Suk’s daughter, has also been playing essential roles in the governance of the country. He aided his nephew succession to power in 2011. He married Chang Song Thaek who was also a dominant figure in the nation. Kim Jong-II loved arts and films. He owned more than 20,000 film copies. Under his leadership, the country was hit by a famine that lasted for four years. Approximately 3 million North Koreans starved to death. He tried making ties with other countries especially South Korea. However, his efforts failed in 2010 when his soldiers sunk a South Korean warship and invaded the Yeongpyeong Island. He suffered from a stroke and his health deteriorated. He died in 2011, and Kim Jong-Un took over.

Although the international community speculated that Kim Jong-Un would be a better leader than his predecessors, he has proven to be more of a dictator than his father and grandfather. He has purged and executed senior government officials including his uncle, Jang Son-Thaek. Jong-Un also defied concerns by the international community and started conducting weapon testing programs. He has supervised the launching of a satellite, a long-range missile, and several underground nuclear weapons. However, Kim Jong-Un has been able to foster a relationship with South Korea. Kim agreed to denuclearize his country. He even agreed to meet the president of the United States Donald Trump for more denuclearization discussions.

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