North Korea: A Strange Socialist Fortress

By Hy-Sang Lee | Go to book overview

2
1945–1950: A Unification-Driven
Communist State

The story of a Communist state in the northern half of the Korean peninsula commenced in 1945 when Soviet Army moved in as the Japanese occupation army left in defeat in World War II. Accompanying the Red Army to North Korea were Kim II Sung, its handpicked leader for North Koreans, and the Communist ideology.

Kim II Sung was only 33 years old when he was introduced to North Koreans at a mass rally in Pyongyang in October 1945. But he had spent his formative years in harsh Manchuria as a guerrilla warrior fighting the Japanese imperialists in Korea and China.1 The youthful Kim had gained military experience and his world outlook was shaped in distinctly martial terms. As the consolidation of his power proceeded, Kim took to insisting that the Communism of the North had to be the ideology for all Korea. Believing limitlessly in his capabilities, he led his followers to carry out the imperative of an all-Korea socialist ideology with a militant strategy, in line with his guerrilla world outlook as well as Kremlin policy.

The goal of taking Communism to the South was proclaimed early on. In an address to party activists following the August 29, 1946, inaugural congress of the Communist party, named then the Workers’ Party of North Korea, Kim declared: “Marxism-Leninism is the most scientific and revolutionary theory that illuminates the road of struggle for the people at each stage of social development.”2 In the same speech he also said, “[T]he people in the southern part of Korea have come under a more barbaric rule than years of Japanese imperialism.… Therefore, the Korean people should fight more stubbornly now to eliminate the danger created in south Korea and win complete independence and sovereignty

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