Kim M Watt Biography & Facts
Kim Jong-il (; Korean: 김정일; Korean pronunciation: [kim.dzɔŋ.il]; born Yuri Irsenovich Kim; 16 February 1941 – 17 December 2011) was a North Korean politician who was the second supreme leader of North Korea from 1994 to 2011. He led North Korea from the 1994 death of his father Kim Il-sung, the first Supreme Leader, until his own death in 2011, when he was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un.
In the early 1980s, Kim had become the heir apparent for the leadership of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and assumed important posts in the party and army organs. Kim succeeded his father and DPRK founder Kim Il-sung, following the elder Kim's death in 1994. Kim was the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), WPK Presidium, Chairman of the National Defence Commission (NDC) of North Korea and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the fourth-largest standing army in the world.
Kim ruled North Korea as a repressive and totalitarian dictatorship. Kim assumed leadership during a period of catastrophic economic crisis amidst the dissolution of the Soviet Union, on which it was heavily dependent for trade in food and other supplies, which brought a famine. While the famine had ended by the late 1990s, food scarcity continued to be a problem throughout his tenure. Kim strengthened the role of the military by his Songun ("military-first") policies, making the army the central organizer of civil society. Kim's rule also saw tentative economic reforms, including the opening of the Kaesong Industrial Park in 2003. In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended to refer to him and his successors as the "supreme leader of the DPRK".
The most common colloquial title given to Kim was "Dear Leader" to distinguish him from his father Kim Il-sung, the "Great Leader". Following Kim's failure to appear at important public events in 2008, foreign observers assumed that Kim had either fallen seriously ill or died. On 19 December 2011, the North Korean government announced that he had died two days earlier, whereupon his third son, Kim Jong-un, was promoted to a senior position in the ruling WPK and succeeded him. After his death, Kim was designated the "Eternal General Secretary" of the WPK and the "Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission", in keeping with the tradition of establishing eternal posts for the dead members of the Kim family.
Soviet records show that Kim Jong-il was born Yuri Irsenovich Kim (Russian: Юрий Ирсенович Ким). In literature, it is assumed that he was born in 1941 in either the camp of Vyatskoye, near Khabarovsk, or camp Voroshilov near Nikolsk. According to Lim Jae-cheon, Kim cannot have been born in Vyatskoye as Kim Il-sung's war records show that he arrived at Vyatskoye only in July 1942 and had been living in Voroshilov before, thus Kim Jong-il is generally agreed to have been born in Voroshilov. Kim's mother, Kim Jong-suk, was Kim Il-sung's first wife. Inside his family, he was nicknamed "Yura", while his younger brother Kim Man-il (born Alexander Irsenovich Kim) was nicknamed "Shura".Kim's official biography states he was born in a secret military camp on Paektu Mountain (Korean: 백두산밀영고향집; Baekdusan Miryeong Gohyang jip) in Chōsen on 16 February 1942. According to one comrade of Kim's mother, Lee Min, word of Kim's birth first reached an army camp in Vyatskoye via radio and that both Kim and his mother did not return there until the following year. Reports indicate that his mother died in childbirth in 1949.In 1945, Kim was four years old 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. The family moved into a former Japanese officer's mansion in Pyongyang, with a garden and pool. Kim's brother drowned there in 1948.
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 Korean Children's Union and the Democratic Youth League of North Korea (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 (the chairman had to be a teacher). He pursued a programme of anti-factionalism and attempted to encourage greater ideological education among his classmates.Kim is also said to have received English language education in Malta in the early 1970s on his infrequent holidays there as a guest of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff.The elder Kim had meanwhile remarried and had another son, Kim Pyong-il. Since 1988, Kim Pyong-il has served in a series of North Korean embassies in Europe and was 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.
Ascension to power
Kim Jong-il officially joined the Workers' Party of Korea in July 1961. He rose up the ranks during the 1960s, and benefited greatly from the Kapsan Faction Incident around March 1967, which was the last credible challenge to Kim Il-sung's rule. This incident marked the first time Kim Jong-il was – at age 26 – given official duties by his father, when the younger Kim took part in the investigation and purges that followed the incident.In addition, Kim Jong-il gave a speech at the plenum; it was his first as a figure of authority. Kim Jong-il's name was also mentioned in public documents, possibly for the first time, indicating that Kim Il-sung might have already planned for the younger to succeed him as leader.Only six months after, in an unscheduled meeting of the party, Kim Il-sung called for loyalty in the film industry that had betrayed him with An Act of Sincerity. Kim Jong-il himself announced that he was up to the task and thus begun his influential career in North Korean film-making, during which he made significant efforts to further intensify the personality cult of his father and attach himself to it.In 1973, Kim Jong-il was appointed to the WPK Central Committee. But during the early 1970s, Kim's uncle, Kim Yong-ju, was still widely believed to be Kim Il-sung's eventual successor. At that time, he held top positions in the Central People’s Committee and the SPA Presidium. However, at the same time Kim Jong-il's power was growing, and a power struggle erupted.At the time, the WPK was heavily focusing ideologically on Kim Il-sung's Ju.... Discover the Kim M Watt popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Kim M Watt books.