World of Knowledge (Australia) - - History -

Next time you see pos­tur­ing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on TV, threat­en­ing to nuke the United States from the world map, re­mem­ber: it’s not his fault, it’s in his genes.

Jong-un is de­scended from a proud line of lu­natics. While his fa­ther Kim Jong-il plunged the coun­try into famine and ig­nored the ba­sic hu­man rights of his cit­i­zens, it’s Jong-il’s fa­ther Kim Ii-sung who claims fam­ily brag­ging rights as the big­gest bas­tard of all the Kims.

Af­ter ris­ing through the ranks of the Com­mu­nist Korean Worker’s Party, Il-sung was in­stalled as Prime Min­is­ter of the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic by Rus­sian dic­ta­tor Joseph Stalin in 1948, whose forces were occupying the Korean penin­sula north of the 38th par­al­lel. Il-sung’s com­mu­nist bud­dies loaded him up with mil­i­tary hard­ware, which he promptly used to in­vade South Korea, a salvo which ig­nited a bloody three-year-long Korean War, leav­ing 2.5 mil­lion dead.

His aim was to unify the whole of Korea. That ob­jec­tive failed. But it didn’t stop Il-sung from claim­ing vic­tory back home, a feat made eas­ier by his vice-like grip over ev­ery facet of North Korean life.

Us­ing Stalin as a bench­mark, Il-sung made sure all TVS and ra­dios were pre­set to one state-con­trolled chan­nel or sta­tion. Those who ped­dled in­for­ma­tion out­side of­fi­cial streams were jailed, tor­tured or ex­e­cuted by the se­cret po­lice (who had set up an all-see­ing, all-hear­ing net­work of spies). A sys­tem of labour camps were built to house those guilty of ‘po­lit­i­cal crimes’. Ev­ery industry was na­tion­alised. In­di­vid­u­al­ity and free thought were, in ef­fect, erad­i­cated.

And yet, in­cred­i­bly, Il-sung was wor­shipped with god-like de­vo­tion in North Korea, thanks to what

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