chapter  1
28 Pages

Approach March: 1912–50

ByAdrian Buzo

In a state governed by personal autocracy, the significance of the character, personality and life experiences of the leader is self-evident. Kim Il Sung was born Kim Song-ju in the village of Mangyongdae near Pyongyang on 15 April 1912. Kim's entry into anti-Japanese activism was part of a much broader nationalist movement which first arose with the steady Japanese penetration into Korea, beginning with the Treaty of Kanghwa in 1876 and culminating with the annexation of Korea as a Japanese colony in 1910. In both North and South Korea political activity in the immediate post-liberation period proceeded amid strong popular expectations of the immediate restoration of Korean independence and of wide-ranging social and political change, but also amid the chaos created by the abrupt withdrawal of the Japanese colonial administration after thirty-five years of intensive rule. Throughout 1946 a series of economic and social measures began to transform North Korean society.