Kim Jong Il's North Korea Austin Stoelk
Alison Behnke Comp II
Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.
Part 1: 75 pages
“No matter what the truth about the Kim family’s situation, all Koreans at the time faced challenges and hardships due to Japanese rules and restrictions. The Kims were likely no exceptions. (28)"
How much do we think our president is in control today? Jong Il is a man who, at the beginning of the book, appears to be intimidating, mean, and in large control. Jong Il is the dictator of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). President George W. Bush describes this DPRK government as an “axis of evil,” and at the time many consider Jong Il as a madman. From the first several pages, I get the impression that Jong Il is a man who just wanted total control. After this beginning session, the book explains the time before Jong Il that involved the Korean Peninsula. Korea, for many years, does not want to have any foreign relations with other countries. In 1876, the Japanese break this and force Korea to open up more ports until eventually the Japanese basically take over. This surprises me because all Korea wants is to be isolated at this time, but they are unable to do so. Also, this leads me to be able to make the assumption that Jong Il will be of importance and that this will be a great reason why he is honored many times, as explained in the quotation. The Japanese are later unable to defeat the Koreans, who get allies such as the United States and Russia in World War II. With the defeat giving more freedom to Koreans, the Japanese still force some rules, as explained in the quotation.
As I continue the book, leaders like Kim Il Sung attempt to make their own government. As time goes on, all the Kims that attempt ruling have a difficult task no matter what the circumstance because of the Japanese interfering. During this time, different people are thinking of different theories. A major theory referred to by Karl Marx of the 1800s is Marxism, which involves communism or the equality of people in social class, opportunities, etc. This idea is used by many angry Koreans against the Japanese, which I feel is the right move. By this, I mean that the Koreans should have much right to take action out of the frustration of being told what to do. As the quotation at the beginning explains, even the Kims don’t have much rules when the Japanese take over. Il Sung takes initiative in communism and becomes interested; Il Sung is also so skilled that he can not be caught, which ignites the Japanese to be even more frustrated.
As Kim Il Sung goes through communism and many events, he starts facing personal issues. His second son dies of being drowned at the age of three, and more family members die. At this time, Il Sung’s North Korea and South Korea are beginning to fight one another. The North, after a long battle, ends up pursuing to win; with the win, they get the peninsula and Seoul as well. Later, the United states and UN go with South Korean troops to win Seoul back. China then sends troops back to fight against the U.S. As more battles occur, I feel more and more countries are getting involved, and the mess is getting larger! China ends up winning Seoul, but UN and the U.S. win the location back. A truce is then made between the South and North, but the aftermath is crucial. Nearly 1.5 million North Koreans were dead, which made me realize this question involving the quotation: If the Japanese hadn’t had so many restrictions, would the wars still had happened? I feel the Japanese and North Korea are extremely lucky because as they rebuild, their groundwork for industry is still present. Kim Il Sung is honored after the wars for his courageous acts, and his son King Jong Il’s born. With his son being born, a cult of personality elevates for Il Sung and a statue is put up in nearly every city. This ties into my quotation because of what happened: the Japanese now don’t have as much control over North Korea. I feel this is good for North Korea, as they may not get involved in any more wars and I feel the rest of the book will talk about the rule of Kim Jong Il.