Modern Korea

The modern history of Korea was pioneered by President Kim Il Sung and advanced victoriously by Chairman Kim Jong Il.

In the early 20th century, the Korean people who had remained bound in the fetters of age-old backwardness, poverty and feudalism were driven into a miserable plight under the military occupation of the Japanese imperialists (1905-1945).

In those days of national ruin, Kim Il Sung was born on April 15, 1912.

Regarding love for his country, nation and people as his lifetime motto, he embarked on the road of revolution in his early days and performed great exploits that would be handed down for ages.

He liberated Korea by commanding the 20-year-long anti-Japanese revolutionary war to victory.

He built a powerful socialist country―independent in politics, self-sufficient in the economy and self-reliant in national defence―by leading the building of a new society, the Fatherland Liberation War, the post-war rehabilitation, the social revolutions of two stages and the socialist construction to victory.

Kim Jong Il formulated the revolutionary ideas of Kim Il Sung as Kimilsungism and enriched them as the guiding ideology of the independent era.

He developed the Workers’ Party of Korea into an invincible revolutionary party that struck its root deep into the masses of the people and achieved steel-strong unity.

In order to cope with the collapse of the socialist system in the world community and the ever-increasing schemes of the allied imperialist forces to isolate and stifle the DPRK in the closing years of the 20th century he administered a unique Songun politics on a full scale.

As a result, he defended socialism that represents the supreme interests of his country and nation and turned the Arduous March and forced march into the drive to build a powerful socialist country.

Today, the Korean people have turned out as one in the efforts to accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche pioneered by Kim Il Sung and advanced victoriously by Kim Jong Il, under the guidance of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un.

The anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle in Korea was a national liberation struggle waged by the Korean people from Juche 15 (1926) to Juche 34 (1945) under the leadership of President Kim Il Sung (1912-1994) under the unfurled banner of Juche.

Entering the middle of the 1920s, the Korean people eagerly waited for the advent of an outstanding leader who could save the destiny of their country and nation and lead the revolution. Kim Il Sung embarked on the sacred road of the revolution for Korea’s liberation as demanded by the times and the revolution.

In January Juche 14 (1925), he left his native home in Mangyongdae and crossed the Amnok River to China, with a firm pledge never to return home before he won back his country deprived of by the Japanese imperialists.

In June 1926, he entered Hwasong Uisuk School (a two-year military and political school established by the Korean nationalists), where he found out a number of revolutionary comrades with whom he would share life and death. On October 17, 1926, he formed the Down-with-Imperialism Union (DIU) and started his revolutionary struggle.

The DIU set it as its immediate task to destroy Japanese imperialism and achieve Korea’s liberation and independence, and its ultimate aim to build socialism and communism in Korea and further strive to overthrow all forms of imperialism and build communism throughout the world.

The formation of the DIU was a historic declaration that heralded a new start of the Korean communist movement and the Korean revolution. It signalled the advent of the vanguard organization of the revolution and made it possible to realize the leadership of Kim Il Sung over the masses.

He made a historic report, titled, The Path of the Korean Revolution, at the meeting of the leading personnel of the Young Communist League and the Anti-Japanese Youth League in Kalun in the summer of 1930. In the report he clarified the principle of the Juche idea that the masters of the Korean revolution are the Korean people, and that the Korean revolution should by all means be carried out by the Korean people themselves in a way suited to the actual conditions of their country. He also made clear the Juche-oriented lines and strategic and tactical policy for the Korean revolution such as the lines of waging an armed struggle against the Japanese imperialists and forming an anti-Japanese national united front and the policy of founding a revolutionary party.

On April 25, 1932, he founded the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army (reorganized into the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army later), the first revolutionary armed force in Korea. It was a historic event which brought about a radical turn in the revolutionary struggle of the Korean people.

The KPRA grew up into an unconquerable armed unit capable of destroying any formidable enemy through its bloody struggle against the Japanese imperialist aggressor forces that boasted of being an “invincible army,” and advanced into the homeland to deliver crushing political and military blows at them.

The Japanese imperialists, who sustained severe blows from the ceaseless fierce attack by the KPRA and the all-people resistance in all parts of Korea, declared their unconditional surrender on August 15, 1945.

Under the commandership of Kim Il Sung the Korean revolutionaries and people brought their heroic anti-Japanese armed struggle to a brilliant victory, liberating their country from the four-decade-long military occupation of the Japanese imperialists.

After achieving the historic cause of Korea’s liberation by commanding the 20-year-long arduous anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle to victory Kim Il Sung energetically led the efforts to build a new country.

He put forward the three tasks of building a party, an army and a state in the liberated Korea and pushed forward the struggle to implement them.

After making full preparations he convened an inaugural congress of founding the party on October 10, 1945 in Pyongyang. At the congress he set up the Central Organizing Committee of the Communist Party of North Korea as its central leadership body, and proclaimed its founding. In August 1946 the Communist Party was merged with the New Democratic Party into the Workers’ Party of North Korea and, in 1949, the workers’ parties in the north and the south were merged into the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Based himself on full preparations for founding a regular armed force, Kim Il Sung developed the KPRA into the Korean People’s Army on February 8, 1948.

He convened a joint conference of representatives of political parties and public organizations in north and south of Korea in April 1948 and a consultative meeting of leaders of political parties and public organizations in north and south of Korea in June that year, where he initiated a proposal of setting up a pan-Korean supreme legislative body by holding a general election in the north and the south and establishing a unified government by adopting a constitution of a democratic people’s republic. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was founded on September 9, 1948, with the result that the Korean people became a dignified people who carve out their destiny independently as the masters of the state and the society for the first time in history and the DPRK made its debut on the international arena as a full-fledged independent and sovereign state.

In the liberated northern half of Korea such economic reforms as the agrarian reform and the nationalization of key industries, various democratic reforms, including the Labour Law for providing the working people with full guarantees for their democratic rights and the Law on Sex Equality for realizing social emancipation of women, and other policies for democracy in the judicial and prosecutorial work and in the sectors of education and culture came into force successfully. The general ideological mobilization movement for nation building, emulation drive for increased production, anti-illiteracy campaign and other mass movements were vigorously launched, with the result that the Korean people were able to liquidate the outdated ideological vestiges and technical and cultural backwardness which had impeded the independence of the working masses and step up the building of a new democratic Korea successfully.

The successful implementation of the tasks of the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution in the short period of time after liberation and the vigorous efforts to build a new democratic Korea made it possible to establish the people’s democratic system and the revolutionary democratic base, a reliable guarantee for national reunification, in the northern half of Korea.

The US imperialists provoked an armed invasion against the DPRK on June 25, 1950. Owing to this war, the peaceful construction in the DPRK was brought to suspension and the Korean people were faced with trying ordeals.

The US imperialists hurled into the Korean war huge armed forces over two million strong, including one third of their Army, one fifth of their Air Force and most of their Pacific Fleet, and their 15 vassal states plus the south Korean army and the former Japanese army. Compared with this, the DPRK was less than two years old and the KPA a little over two years old. On top of that, the country had a very weak economy.

But in the van of the Korean people was Kim Il Sung who had performed immortal exploits and gained rich experience in the flames of the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle and who was possessed of great military ideas and adroit strategy and tactics, seasoned leadership and ever-victorious commanding art, and extraordinary abilities and lofty virtues. Making clear that the struggle of the Korean people against the US aggressors is a struggle to realize the complete liberation and independence of their country and, at the same time, a struggle to ensure the global peace and security and that it serves as a banner for the peoples in colonial and dependent countries in their national liberation movement, Kim Il Sung vigorously inspired the entire army and all the people to the drive to win victory in the war.

The heroic KPA soldiers switched over to a counterattack to safeguard the freedom and independence of their country. They liberated the areas accounting for over 90 percent of the entire southern half of Korea and 92 percent of its population only in a month and a half after the outbreak of the war. An agrarian reform and other democratic reforms were enforced there.

As the war dragged on due to the desperate moves of the US imperialists, Kim Il Sung ensured that large combined units formed a second front behind the enemy lines for concerted operations with the main front and took various steps for moving munitions production bases to safe places and increasing the output of war supplies. Along with this, he roused all the Party members and other people to the struggle to establish a strict revolutionary discipline in the Party, the state and the army, to overcome dogmatism and flunkeyism and thoroughly establish the Juche-oriented method of work in the field of military affairs and to increase wartime production and the assistance to the front. He took a measure to increase high-angle firepower to suit the actual conditions of the country and created many unique military tactics, including positional defence warfare relying on tunnels, storming teams, sniping teams, anti-tank teams and anti-aircraft teams. The soldiers of the KPA applied these deployments skillfully, thereby dealing crushing blows to the enemy.

During the war the US imperialists resorted to the most brutal means and methods unprecedented in the world history of war, squandering huge military expenditures and war materials, only to suffer one military, political and moral defeat after another in all their operations and battles.

The US imperialists fell to their knees before the Korean people and the Korean People’s Army and finally signed the Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953. The three-year-long Fatherland Liberation War ended in a great victory for the Korean people.

During the period of the war, the KPA soldiers and the Korean people killed, wounded or captured over 1 567 000 of enemy, including more than 405 000 US imperialist aggressor troops, and seized or destroyed enormous amounts of combat equipment and war materiel, including over 12 200 aircraft, over 560 warships of various types, over 3 250 tanks and armoured vehicles, over 13 000 trucks, and 7 695 guns of various types. The loss sustained by the US imperialist aggressors was nearly 2.3 times what they had sustained during the Second World War.

The war damage in the DPRK was beyond description. During the three-year-long war the US imperialists dropped 18 bombs on average per square kilometre in the northern half of Korea, reducing towns and rural villages into debris. Not only the sectors of the economy, including industry, agriculture and rail transport, but the establishments of education, culture and public health were all devastated. The Korean people lost all their shelters and household goods and were short of food and clothes.

Regarding heavy industry as the main link in the effort to successfully solve all problems in the postwar rehabilitation, Kim Il Sung advanced the line of economic construction on giving priority to heavy industry and simultaneously developing light industry and agriculture. He saw to it that great efforts were directed to boost grain production in order to solve urgent food shortage at the earliest possible date while transforming the private peasant economy along the socialist cooperative lines in rural areas.

The Three-Year National Economic Plan (1954-1956) was worked out according to this policy, and the Korean people overfulfilled it ahead of schedule, tightening their belts and displaying the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance to overcome the obstacles in their way.

In the wake of the Three-Year National Economic Plan, they carried out several stages of national economic development plans, including Five-Year Plan, Six-Year Plan and three rounds of Seven-Year Plan, through which they made eye-opening achievements in the campaign to put the national economy on a Juche-oriented, modern and scientific footing. As a result, the DPRK was turned into a socialist industrial-agricultural state based on the sound foundations of the independent national economy in 1961, and a socialist industrial state in 1970. With the promulgation of the decree of the Supreme People’s Assembly on eliminating the tax system once and for all, a hangover from the outdated society, in March 1974, the DPRK became the first tax-free country in the world.

In August 1958 the agricultural cooperativization and the socialist transformation of private trade and industry were brought to completion, with the result that a socialist system was established in the DPRK. Kim Il Sung defined the three revolutions–ideological, technological and cultural–as the tasks of the continuous revolution that should be carried out after the establishment of the socialist system, and put forward modelling the whole society on the Juche idea as the general task of the revolution for completely realizing the independence of the working masses and the ultimate programme of the WPK. To this end, he set forth a series of tasks for remoulding all the members of society on revolutionary, working-class and intellectual patterns and making the national economy Juche-oriented, modern and scientific.

He initiated a great upsurge in socialist construction and the Chollima Movement and inspired all the people to brave the hardships and obstacles in the way of their struggle.

Under the slogan “Let us dash forward at the speed of Chollima!” advanced by Kim Il Sung the Korean working class and other people gave full play to the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance and fortitude, tapping all available reserves and launching such campaigns to increase production and make economies, and thus performed world-startling miracles and innovations on all fronts of socialist construction. The movement to create the speed of the 80s was pushed forward in all fields and units of the national economy to attain the ten long-term objectives of socialist economic construction advanced at the Sixth Congress of the WPK before the set time and glorify the 1980s as a decade of exploits performed in socialist construction.

The socialist culture was brought into fuller bloom in the DPRK.

The universal 11-year compulsory education system came into effect throughout the DPRK from 1975. The DPRK Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children was enacted in 1976 to consolidate by law the system of bringing up all children at state and public expense, and the Theses on Socialist Education was made public in 1977. The policy of making the whole society intellectual, which was aimed at raising the cultural and technical standards of all members of society to the level equal to a university graduate, was realized. A golden era was ushered in in all the sectors of the art and literature, including the cinema, opera, drama and novel. Televisions found their way into every household across the DPRK and modern cultural establishments mushroomed in different parts of the country so as to fully meet the people’s demands.

Remarkable successes were registered in the efforts to accomplish the cause of national reunification. In 1972 high-level inter-Korean talks were held and the July 4 North-South Joint Statement was adopted, in which the north and south of Korea confirmed the three principles of national reunification—independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity—as their common reunification programme. They were followed by multifaceted dialogues and agreements. Inter-Korean projects for cooperation and exchanges became brisk, including the north side’s huge assistance to the flood-stricken south side in 1984. In 1990 the Pan-National Alliance for Korea’s Reunification (Pomminryon) and other reunification-oriented organizations were formed with the aim of achieving the great unity of the whole nation and the independent and peaceful reunification of Korea, and various functions for reunification were held in the north and south of Korea. Today the three principles of national reunification, the plan for founding the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo (1980) and the Ten-Point Programme of the Great Unity of the Whole Nation for the Reunification of the Country (1993), all of which were advanced by President Kim Il Sung, serve as the three charters to be maintained in the movement for Korea’s reunification.

The First Session of the Fifth Supreme People’s Assembly in December 1972 adopted the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and elected Kim Il Sung President of the DPRK.

The Eighth Plenary Meeting of the Fifth Workers’ Party of Korea in February 1974 elected Kim Jong Il a member of the Political Committee of the WPK Central Committee and acclaimed him as the only successor to Kim Il Sung in reflection of the unanimous will and aspiration of all the Korean people.

Under the historic circumstances in April 1992 when they entered a new epochal phase in the drive to implement the Third Seven-Year Plan and carry forward the socialist cause the Korean people greeted the 80th birthday of Kim Il Sung as the greatest auspicious event of the Korean nation and a grand political festival common to humankind.

Kim Il Sung, father of the Korean nation, passed away in 1994. Availing itself of this opportunity, the US became ever more pronounced in their attempt to launch a military offensive against the DPRK and put persistent pressure on it in the political, economic, ideological, cultural, diplomatic and other fields in a bid to stifle it.

Worse still, the Korean people had to undergo the “Arduous March” and forced march due to severe shortages of food, fuel and electric power caused by recurrent natural disasters.

Kim Jong Il established Songun politics as the main mode of his politics as the Korean people were building socialism in the face of imperialists’ encirclement and their military threat. He defined the KPA as the main force of the revolution and led it to set an example for the whole country in all work and make a breakthrough in the van of socialist economic construction.

Under the slogans “Let us take upon ourselves both national defence and socialist construction!” and “When the Party is determined, we can do anything!” the KPA service personnel performed miracles in the efforts to build power stations and other monumental structures and realign the land across the country and bring about the country’s prosperity and the people’s well-being.

Kim Jong Il called the spirit displayed by the KPA service personnel the revolutionary soldier spirit and ensured that all sectors and units emulated the spirit and that the service personnel and people pooled their efforts to break through difficulties and effect a fresh upswing in the revolution and construction.

The Korean people braved all difficulties and ordeals under the slogan “Let us go the thorny path cheerfully!” They launched the movement to build small- and large-sized power stations on a large scale so as to solve the issue of great strain on power generation. True to the WPK’s policies of launching seed revolution and bringing about a radical turn in potato farming and double cropping, fresh changes were witnessed in the agricultural sector. All the fields of feudal structure across the country were standardized into large ones and several gravity-fed waterways were built, with the result that the irrigation network in the countryside was improved at a higher level.

A large number of stock farms, poultry farms and fish-breeding farms provided with hi-tech facilities mushroomed in different parts of the country. Vigorous efforts have been made to put the steel- and iron-making industry on a modern basis. Many light-industry bases, including condiment factories, have been newly built or renovated on the basis of latest technologies. The young Koreans built the 40-km-long Youth Hero Road between Pyongyang and Nampho, displaying their heroic mettle to the world.

The scientists and technicians have made eye-opening achievements in basic science, life science, information engineering and other sectors. In particular, they succeeded in the satellite launch and nuclear tests respectively on two occasions, thus demonstrating the might of Juche Korea.

Thanks to Songun politics, solid foundations have been laid for realizing the independent and peaceful reunification of Korea. As top priority has been given to building up the country’s military capabilities, the schemes of the US and south Korean bellicose forces to start a new war on the Korean peninsula were frustrated at every step and the peace and stability in the region ensured. This being the situation, the inter-Korean summit was made in June 2000 for the first time in the history of Korea’s division, at which the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration, a milestone for Korea’s reunification, was adopted. It resulted in bringing about the thrilling June 15 era of reunification when the Koreans in the north and the south, who had been in hostile confrontation with each other, joined hands for unity and reunification under the ideal of By Our Nation Itself. 2007 witnessed another inter-Korean summit, which produced the October 4 Declaration, an action programme for the June 15 Joint Declaration.

After the demise of Chairman Kim Jong Il in December Juche 100 (2011), the Korean people held up President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il as their eternal leaders and turned out as one to implement their lifetime instructions with the great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism as the eternal guiding ideology.

They held up the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, the only and loyal successor to the ideas and cause of the great leaders, at the highest posts of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the state and the armed forces.

Kim Jong Un elucidated a far-reaching strategy of the Juche revolution, clarified in a comprehensive way the great action programmes for the revolution and construction and ever-victorious strategic and tactical guidelines, and has victoriously led the socialist cause by dint of outstanding leadership.

Under his leadership, an eye-opening heyday has been ushered in in all the political, economic, military and cultural fields.

The people-first principle has been thoroughly applied in all sectors of the revolution and construction, with the result that the political and ideological position of the country has been consolidated, an unquenchable strength with which to break through any obstacles and challenges has been built up, and the advantages and vitality of the Korean-style socialism centred on the masses have been fully displayed.

In a short period after the line of simultaneously carrying on economic construction and building up the country’s nuclear forces as required by the prevailing political and military situation and the developing revolution, the historic cause of completing the building of the national nuclear force was realized and a great change was brought about in strengthening the defence capability of the country, thus providing a guarantee for the security and future of the state and the people.

Amid the struggle for opening up a new avenue for socialist construction holding fast to self-reliance as a powerful dynamic force for development, many industrial establishments have been built or renovated, further consolidating the foundations of the country’s self-supporting economy; and famous products favoured by the people are being produced and a new history of “gold mountains,” “gold fields” and “gold seas” is being made.

A golden age of construction has been ushered in, with the result that many modern houses, bases for recreation and leisure activities and monumental edifices symbolic of the era such as Ryomyong Street, Mirae Scientists Street, Samjiyon City, the Yangdok Hot Spring Resort, the Sci-Tech Complex, the Ryugyong Health Complex, the People’s Open-Air Ice Rink, Munsu Water Park and the Masikryong Ski Resort have been built year after year.

With the application of the line of attaching importance to science and technology, great successes have been achieved in the sectors of cutting-edge science and technology, including exploration of outer space, and valuable sci-tech research findings and inventions that can push forward the country’s economic development have been achieved.

A new age of efflorescence has been opened in all sectors of building socialist culture; universal 12-year compulsory education system is in force now and the work of making all the people well versed in science and technology is being propelled vigorously.

Powerful preemptive emergency anti-epidemic position has been maintained against the pandemic, and a vigorous campaign was launched for recovering from the successive terrible natural disasters, so as to reliably safeguard the security of the country and the well-being of the people.

The DPRK’s external position has radically been raised.

The DPRK has developed the relations of friendship with China as required by the demands of the new century, opening a new chapter in the DPRK-China relations of friendship with socialism as its core, laid a cornerstone for the expansion of its relations of friendship with Russia, and radically strengthened its unity and solidarity with other socialist countries.

The several rounds of DPRK-US summit talks, the first of its kind in the relations between the two countries, were noteworthy events which demonstrated to the world the strategic position of the DPRK, which defends its independent interests and peace and justice.

All the Korean people, closely united around Kim Jong Un, are advancing vigorously to bring earlier a fresh victory of the socialist cause, true to the tasks advanced at the Eighth Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

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