On this day in 1912 the world celebrated the birth of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea first Glorious Dictator, Kim Il Sung… probably.
North Korea is notoriously imaginative when it comes to what constitutes a fact, so when it’s claimed Kim Il Sung was born on April 15th 1912, you should take that information with a grain of salt the size of the calcium deposit on the back of Kim Il Sung’s neck.
At the age of 14, when most kids in the West were doing little more than trying to keep their hormones in check, Kim was forming the ‘Down With Imperialism Union’, an organisation tasked with fighting both Japanese imperialism and destroying the International Capitalist Conspiracy.
Again, pinch of salt, but that’s what we’re told so… hey… just passing along the info, for what it’s worth.
Joining the resistance against the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1935, Kim Il Sung would conduct hit and run raids against the invaders, eventually fleeing into the Soviet Union when things went south. He would later reach the rank of Major in the Red Army.
Returning to Korea in 1945, following the defeat of the Japanese, Kim rose to become leader of North Korea by 1946, a task made easier by the fact he had the Soviet Union backing him for the position of Top Dog.
Uneasy at Kim’s cosy relationship with the Soviet Union, the southern portion of the Korean peninsula would declare its independence from the north in 1948. Kim Il Sung took this turn of events entirely in his stride, and showing there were no hard feelings he invaded the south in 1950, sparking off The Korean War.
The Korean War was perhaps the last true mobilization of the United Nations into an effective fighting force, tasking the Democratic nations with expelling the Soviet backed North Koreans from the south of the peninsula. This would in turn lead to General McArthur, the gung-ho American General in charge of Allied forces, to demand the release of nuclear weapons to stop the advance of International Communism.
Fortunately the American government was at least partially more sane than McArthur, and rather than giving the mirrored-sunglasses-wearing cowboy nuclear weapons to play with, decided to replace him with someone more in touch with reality.
Kim’s forces were eventually joined by the Chinese, and following appalling losses on the communist side an uneasy truce was declared right back where the original demarcation line had been… the 38th Parallel. So that was a worthwhile war, wasn’t it?
North Korea was left economically destitute following the Korean War, and Kim instituted a series of ineffectual Glorious Five Year Plans in order to restore North Korea to the status of Industrialized Nation. Unfortunately these plans succeeded in working a whole bunch of North Koreans to death and not a whole lot else.
Kim’s legacy was to initiate a line of father-son dictatorships, consistent in their ability to maintain North Korea as the worst place to live in the history of forever.
Death camps, matching grey uniforms for civilians, the bicycle as the pinnacle of transportation, starvation, bizarre haircuts, and more political backstabbing in a week than in 5 seasons of Game of Thrones, these are the things that North Korea has come to be known for,
Currently there are over 500 statues of Kim Il Sung in North Korea, so no civilian has to travel far to see a real life representation of the asshat who screwed their country over. This is fortunate, because you can’t get spare parts for bicycles in North Korea, so walking is the primary method of getting around.
It is possible to travel to North Korea as a tourist, however you may be expected to read a denunciation of the United States on camera. No, really.
Each year thousands of North Koreans flock to see giant statues of the guy who starved their relatives to death.