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Kim Jong-il

 

Kim Jong-il
김정일
金正日

Kim Jong-il in 2000

Supreme Leader of North Korea
Born 16 February 1941 (1941-02-16) (age 69)
Vyatskoye, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union (Soviet records)
16 February 1942 (1942-02-16) (age 68)
Baekdu Mountain, Japanese Korea (North Korean records)
Spouse(s) Kim Young-sook
Song Hye-rim
Ko Young-hee
Kim Ok
Children Kim Sul-song
Kim Jong-nam
Kim Jong-chul
Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-il (also written as Kim Jong Il; born 16 February 1941) is the de facto leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea); the official leader of the country is still his long-deceased father Kim Il-sung, the founder of the state. He is the Chairman of the National Defense Commission, General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, the ruling party since 1948, and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, the fourth largest standing army in the world. In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended and now implicitly refers to him as the "Supreme Leader". He is also referred to as the "Dear Leader", "our Father", "the General" and "Generalissimo". His son Kim Jong-un was promoted to a senior position in the ruling Worker's Party and is heir apparent.

Childhood

Birth

Soviet records show that Kim Jong-il was born in the village of Vyatskoye, near Khabarovsk, in 1941,where his father, Kim Il-sung, commanded the 1st Battalion of the Soviet 88th Brigade, made up of Chinese and Korean exiles. Kim Jong-il's mother, Kim Jong-suk, was Kim Il-sung's first wife. During his youth in the Soviet Union, Kim Jong-il was known as Yuri Irsenovich Kim (Юрий Ирсенович Ким), taking his patronymic from his father's Russified name, Ir-sen.

Kim Jong-il's official biography states that he was born in a secret military camp on Baekdu Mountain in Japanese Korea on 16 February 1942. Official biographers claim that his birth at Baekdu Mountain was foretold by a swallow, and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow over the mountain and a new star in the heavens.

In 1945, Kim was three or four years old (depending on his birth year) when World War II ended and Korea regained independence from Japan. His father returned to Pyongyang that September, and in late November Kim returned to Korea via a Soviet ship, landing at Sonbong (선봉군, also Unggi). The family moved into a former Japanese officer's mansion in Pyongyang, with a garden and pool. Kim Jong-il's brother, "Shura" Kim (the first Kim Jong-il, but known by his Russian nickname), drowned there in 1948. Unconfirmed reports suggest that 5 year old Kim Jong-il might have caused the accident. In 1949, his mother died in childbirth. Unconfirmed reports suggest that his mother might have been shot and left to bleed to death.

Education

According to his official biography, Kim completed the course of general education between September 1950 and August 1960. He attended Primary School No. 4 and Middle School No. 1 (Namsan Higher Middle School) in Pyongyang. This is contested by foreign academics, who believe he is more likely to have received his early education in the People's Republic of China as a precaution to ensure his safety during the Korean War.

Throughout his schooling, Kim was involved in politics. He was active in the Children's Union and the Democratic Youth League (DYL), taking part in study groups of Marxist political theory and other literature. In September 1957 he became vice-chairman of his middle school's DYL branch. He pursued a programme of anti-factionalism and attempted to encourage greater ideological education among his classmates. He organized academic competitions and seminars, as well as helping to arrange field trips.

During his youth Kim's interests included music, agriculture and automotive repair. At school he repaired trucks and electric motors in a practice workshop, and he often visited factories and farms with his classmates.

Kim Jong-il began studying at Kim Il-sung University in September 1960, majoring in Marxist political economy. His minor subjects included philosophy and military science. While at university, he also undertook production training at Pyongyang Textile Machinery Factory, as a road-working apprentice and as a worker building TV broadcasting equipment.

Kim joined the Workers' Party of Korea in July 1961. He began accompanying his father in "tours of field guidance", which consisted of visits to factories, farms and workplaces around the country.

Kim Jong-il graduated from Kim Il-sung University in April 1964.

Kim is also said to have received English language education at the University of Malta in the early 1970s, on his infrequent holidays in Malta as guest of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff.

The elder Kim had meanwhile remarried and had another son, Kim Pyong-il (named after Kim Jong-il's drowned brother). Since 1988, Kim Pyong-il has served in a series of North Korean embassies in Europe and is currently the North Korean ambassador to Poland. Foreign commentators suspect that Kim Pyong-il was sent to these distant posts by his father in order to avoid a power struggle between his two sons.[

Early political career (19641979)

After graduating in 1964, Kim Jong-il began his ascension through the ranks of the ruling Korean Workers' Party (KWP). His entrance to politics was met by the tensions within the global communist movement caused by the Sino-Soviet split. Still following Marxism-Leninism as their core ideology, the KWP had launched an offensive against elements within the party deemed revisionist. Dubbed "anti-Party revisionists", senior cadre had spread feudal Confucian ideas, attempted to water down the party's revolutionary line and ignored orders from General Secretary Kim Il-sung.

Shortly after his graduation, Kim was appointed instructor and section chief to the Party Central Committee. His first activities were undertaking parts of the WPK offensive. He agitated amongst officials to ensure party activities did not deviate from the ideological line set by Kim Il-sung, and worked to reveal anti-Party revisionists. He also put in place measures to ensure the Party's ideological system was rigidly enforced among the country's media, writers and artists.

During the late 1960s, Kim wrote a number of discourses on economics. He rallied against moves to make material incentive the primary force behind economic development, and toured the country giving guidance on technical restructuring occurring within industry at the time.

Between 19671969, Kim turned his attention to the military. He believed bureaucrats within the Korean People's Army (KPA) were oppressing the Army's political organizations and distorting state orders. Kim decided these elements posed a threat to the WPK's control of the military. At the Fourth Plenary Meeting of the Fourth Party Committee of the KPA, he exposed certain officers believed to be responsible, who were subsequently expelled.

During his early years in the Party Central Committee, Kim also oversaw activities of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, in which he worked to revolutionize the Korean fine arts. Artists were encouraged to create works new in content and form, produced by new systems and methods, and abandoning old traditions in the Korean arts.

Kim's theory was that film combined a number of artistic forms, and therefore the development of Korean cinema would in turn develop other artistic spheres. This began with film adaptations for Kim Il-sung's works written during World War II, beginning with Five Guerrilla Brothers in 1967. In the early 1970s, operatic adaptations of Kim Il-sung's works began.

Kim was appointed vice-director of the Party Central Committee (PCC) in September 1970, and became an elected member of the PCC in October 1972. In 1973 he was made party secretary in charge of organization affairs, and simultaneously, propaganda and agitation affairs. This was the chief position in the party, and it enabled Kim to become an authoritative interpreter of his father's ideas, giving him immense power.

During the early 1970s, Kim worked to eliminate bureaucracy and encourage political activity amongst the people by Party officials. This included a policy forcing bureaucrats to work among workers at the next subordinate level for 20 days per month.

In February 1974, Kim Jong-il was elected to the Political Committee of the PCC. By this time he had acquired the nicknames of "dear leader" and "intelligent leader", according to his official biography.

That same year, Kim launched the Three-revolution Team Movement. Described as "a new method of guiding the revolution", the movement introduced teams which travelled around the country providing political, scientific and technical training through short courses. The expertise gained was continually developed through mass meetings in which knowledge could be shared.

Kim also led the shock-brigade movement of scientists and technicians  a similar initiative for new scientific research.During the late 1970s, Kim was involved in economic planning, including several campaigns to rapidly develop certain sectors of the economy.[ked on initiatives to build mass political movements within the military, including the Three Revolution Red Flag Movement, Red Flag Company Movement and the Red Flag Vanguard Company Movement.

He was also active in efforts to build a campaign for the reunification of Korea. This included assisting in the formation of the International Liaison Committee for the Independent and Peaceful Reunification of Korea in 1977, attending talks between political parties and groups within the DPRK, and taking part in high-level negotiations between the DPRK and Republic of Korea.

Presidium member and party secretary (19801994)

By the time of the Sixth Party Congress in October 1980, Kim Jong-il's control of the Party operation was complete. He was given senior posts in the Politburo, the Military Commission and the party Secretariat. When he was made a member of the Seventh Supreme People's Assembly in February 1982, international observers deemed him the heir apparent of North Korea.

At this time Kim assumed the title "Dear Leader" (친애한 지도자, chinaehan jidoja) the government began building a personality cult around him patterned after that of his father, the "Great Leader". Kim Jong-il was regularly hailed by the media as the "fearless leader" and "the great successor to the revolutionary cause". He emerged as the most powerful figure behind his father in North Korea.

On 24 December 1991, Kim was also named supreme commander of the North Korean armed forces. Since the Army is the real foundation of power in North Korea, this was a vital step. Defense Minister Oh Jin-wu, one of Kim Il-sung's most loyal subordinates, engineered Kim Jong-il's acceptance by the Army as the next leader of North Korea, despite his lack of military service. The only other possible leadership candidate, Prime Minister Kim Il (no relation), was removed from his posts in 1976. In 1992, Kim Il-sung publicly stated that his son was in charge of all internal affairs in the Democratic People's Republic.

In 1992, radio broadcasts started referring to him as the "Dear Father", instead of the "Dear Leader", suggesting a promotion. His 50th birthday in February was the occasion for massive celebrations, exceeded only by those for the 80th birthday of Kim Il Sung himself on 15 April.

According to defector Hwang Jang-yop, the North Korean system became even more centralized and autocratic under Kim Jong-il than it had been under his father. Although Kim Il-sung required his ministers to be loyal to him, he nonetheless sought their advice in decision-making. In contrast, Kim Jong-il demands absolute obedience and agreement with no advice or compromise, and he views any deviation from his thinking as a sign of disloyalty. According to Hwang, Kim Jong-il personally directs even minor details of state affairs, such as the size of houses for party secretaries and the delivery of gifts to his subordinates.

By the 1980s, North Korea began to experience severe economic stagnation. Kim Il-sung's policy of juche (self-reliance) cut the country off from almost all external trade, even with its traditional partners, the Soviet Union and China.

South Korea accused Kim of ordering the 1983 bombing in Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar), which killed 17 visiting South Korean officials, including four cabinet members, and another in 1987 which killed all 115 on board Korean Air Flight 858. A North Korean agent, Kim Hyon Hui, confessed to planting a bomb in the case of the second, saying the operation was ordered by Kim Jong-il personally.

In 1992, Kim Jong-il's voice was broadcast within North Korea for the only time. During a military parade for the KPA's 60th year anniversary in Pyongyang's then Central Square (Kim Il-sung Square at present), in which Kim Il-sung attended, he approached the microphone at the grandstand and simply said "Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People's Army!" Everyone in the audience clapped and the parade participants at the square grounds (which included veteran soldiers and officers of the KPA) shouted "ten thousand years" three times after that.

Ruler of North Korea

On 8 July 1994, Kim Il-sung died, at the age of 82 from a heart attack. However, it took three years for Kim Jong-il to consolidate his power. He officially took the titles of General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the National Defense Commission on 8 October 1997. In 1998, his Defense Commission chairmanship was declared to be "the highest post of the state", so Kim may be regarded as North Korea's head of state from that date. Also in 1998, the Supreme People's Assembly wrote the president's post out of the constitution in memory of Kim Il-Sung, who was designated the country's "Eternal President". It can be argued, though, that he became the country's leader when he became leader of the Workers' Party; in most Communist countries the party leader is the most powerful person in the country.

Officially, Kim is part of a triumvirate heading the executive branch of the North Korean government along with Premier Choe Yong-rim and parliament chairman Kim Yong-nam (no relations). Each nominally has powers equivalent to a third of a president's powers in most other presidential systems. Kim Jong-il is commander of the armed forces, Choe Yong-rim heads the government and Kim Yong-nam handles foreign relations. In practice, however, Kim Jong-il exercises absolute control over the government and the country.

Although Kim is not required to stand for popular election to his key offices, he is unanimously elected to the Supreme People's Assembly every five years, representing a military constituency, due to his concurrent capacities as KPA Supreme Commander and Chairman of the DPRK NDC.

In 1998, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung implemented the "Sunshine Policy" to improve North-South relations and to allow South Korean companies to start projects in the North. Kim Jong-il announced plans to import and develop new technologies to develop North Korea's fledgling software industry. As a result of the new policy, the Kaesong Industrial Park was constructed in 2003 just north of the de-militarized zone, with the planned participation of 250 South Korean companies, employing 100,000 North Koreans, by 2007. However, by March 2007, the Park contained only 21 companies  employing 12,000 North Korean workers. As of May 2010 the park employs over 40,000 North Korean workers.

In 1994, North Korea and the United States signed an Agreed Framework which was designed to freeze and eventually dismantle the North's nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid in producing two power-generating nuclear reactors. In 2002, Kim Jong-il's government admitted to having produced nuclear weapons since the 1994 agreement. Kim's regime argued the secret production was necessary for security purposes  citing the presence of United States-owned nuclear weapons in South Korea and the new tensions with the US under President George W. Bush.  9 October 2006, North Korea's Korean Central News Agency announced that it had successfully conducted an underground nuclear test.

2008 health and waning power rumors

In an August 2008 issue of the Japanese newsweekly Shukan Gendai, Waseda University professor Toshimitsu Shigemura, an authority on the Korean Peninsula, claimed that Kim Jong-il died of diabetes in late 2003 and had been replaced in public appearances by one or more stand-ins previously employed to protect him from assassination attempts. In a subsequent best-selling book, The True Character of Kim Jong-il, Shigemura cited apparently un-named people close to Kim's family along with Japanese and South Korean intelligence sources, claiming they confirmed Kim's diabetes took a turn for the worse early in 2000 and from then until his supposed death three and a half years later he was using a wheelchair. Shigemura moreover claimed a voiceprint analysis of Kim speaking in 2004 did not match a known earlier recording. It was also noted that Kim Jong-il did not appear in public for the Olympic torch relay in Pyongyang on 28 April 2008. The question had reportedly "baffled foreign intelligence agencies for years."

On 9 September 2008, various sources reported that after he did not show up that day for a military parade celebrating North Korea's 60th anniversary, US intelligence agencies believed Kim might be "gravely ill" after having suffered a stroke. He had last been seen in public a month earlier. A former CIA official said earlier reports of a health crisis were likely to be accurate. North Korean media remained silent on the issue. An Associated Press report said analysts believed Kim had been supporting moderates in the foreign ministry, while North Korea's powerful military was against so-called "Six-Party" negotiations with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States aimed towards ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons. Some US officials noted that soon after rumours about Kim's health were publicized a month before, North Korea had taken a "tougher line in nuclear negotiations." In late August North Korea's official news agency reported the government would "consider soon a step to restore the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon to their original state as strongly requested by its relevant institutions." Analysts said this meant "the military may have taken the upper hand and that Kim might no longer be wielding absolute authority."

Successor

Kim's three sons and his son-in-law, along with O Kuk-ryol, an army general, have been noted as possible successors, but the North Korean government has been wholly silent on this matter. South Korean media have suggested Kim is grooming his son Kim Jong-chul, while defectors and Western media have suggested the possibility of his youngest known son Kim Jong-un who is described to be "just like his father", has the exact same political views and his explosive tempers, but Kim Yong Hyun, a political expert at the Institute for North Korean Studies at Seoul's Dongguk University, has said, "Even the North Korean establishment would not advocate a continuation of the family dynasty at this point." Kim's eldest son Kim Jong-nam was earlier believed to be the designated heir but he appears to have fallen out of favor after being arrested at Narita International Airport near Tokyo in 2001 while traveling on a forged passport.

On 2 June 2009, it was reported that Kim Jong Il's youngest son, Jong Un, was to be North Korea's next leader. Like his father and grandfather, he has also been given an official sobriquet, The Brilliant Comrade. It has been reported that Kim Jong Il is expected to officially designate the son as his successor in 2012. However, there are reports that if leadership passes to one of the sons, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law, Chang Sung-taek, could attempt to take power from him.

Re-election as DPRK leader

On 9 April 2009, Kim was re-elected as chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission, and made an appearance at the Supreme People's Assembly. This was the first time Kim was seen in public since August 2008. He was unanimously re-elected and given a standing ovation.

2010 visits to China

Kim was reported to have visited the People's Republic of China in May 2010. He entered the country by his personal train on 3 May, and stayed in a hotel in Dalian. Kim travelled to China again in August 2010, this time with his son, fueling speculation that he is ready to hand over power to son Kim Jong-un.

Cult of personality

Kim Jong-il is the centre of an elaborate personality cult inherited from his father and founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung. Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son. He is often the centre of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK. His birthday is one of the most important public holidays in the country. On his 60th birthday (based on his official date of birth), mass celebrations occurred throughout the country on the occasion of his Hwangap. Many North Koreans believe that he has the "magical" ability to "control the weather" based on his mood.

One point of view is that Kim Jong Il's cult of personality is solely out of respect for Kim Il-sung or out of fear of punishment for failure to pay homage. Media and government sources from outside of North Korea generally support this view, while North Korean government sources say that it is genuine hero worship. The song "No Motherland Without You", sung by the KPA State Merited Choir, was created especially for Kim in 1992 and is one of the most popular tunes in the country.

Personal life

Family

There is no official information available about Kim Jong-il's marital history, but he is believed to have been officially married once and to have had three mistresses.[98] He has four known children:

  • Kim Sul-Song (daughter)
  • Kim Jong-nam (son)
  • Kim Jong-chul (son)
  • Kim Jong-un (son)

Kim's first wife, Kim Young-sook, was the daughter of a high-ranking military official. His father Kim Il-Sung handpicked her to marry his son. The two have been estranged for some years. Kim has a daughter from this marriage, Kim Sul-song (born 1974).

 


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13 Year Old US Boy to Protest for Peace at G20

Jonathan Lee, 13, from Mississippi is in Seoul, South Korea to promote peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula at the G20 Summit. It is in an effort to bring awareness of the situation in Korea and his suggestion of a Children's Peace Forest in the DMZ.

He is asking the G20 leaders to support:
1.The end of the Korean War with the signing of a peace treaty between the two Koreas and the U.S.
2.A nuclear free Korean peninsula.
3.The creation of a Children's Peace Forest in the DMZ. It's motto is Above Politics, Above Borders, Above Conflicts, Above Ideology. It's all about giving hope to people and children around the world. More......

Music by Misty Edwards (Forerunner Music). Used with permission. 

 

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