Birth of Korean Leader Kim Jong Il
February 16, 1942
The Indelible Mark of Chairman Kim Jong Il on Modern Korea
February 16, 2022 marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of Chairman Kim Jong Il, an outstanding Korean patriot and leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) from 1994 until his untimely death in 2011. His birth date is celebrated in the DPRK as the Day of the Shining Star.
The life and work of Chairman Kim is inextricably connected to the DPRK’s achievements, steadfastly upholding peace on the Korean Peninsula and the region. His work to develop the economy in the service of the people is reflected in their well-being today.
All of this was accomplished despite stepped up anti-communist slanders and aggression directed against the DPRK from the U.S. imperialists, aimed at destroying it. The imperialists have never forgiven the DPRK for staking out its own path in defence of the interests of the Korean nation. Nor have they forgiven the Korean People’s Army, who along with the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army, defeated the U.S. and its allies, including Canada, in the Korean War.
The DPRK was established with great courage and sacrifice by Korean patriots, organized in the Workers’ Party of Korea and lead by President Kim Il Sung. It was founded in 1948 on the basis of upholding the Korean people’s profound desire for peace, independence and reunification, coming out of the experience of defeating the Japanese colonialists and the illegal division of the country by U.S. imperialists at the end of the Second World War. From his youth until his death in 2011, Chairman Kim worked tirelessly to consolidate the sound foundation on which the DPRK was established, including making innovative contributions in many fields
For his life-long work in the Workers’ Party of Korea, serving in many posts including General Secretary from 1997-2011, Kim Jong Il was posthumously awarded the title of “Eternal General Secretary.” He was also posthumously awarded the title “Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission,” for his work to safeguard the DPRK’s sovereignty in that position, which he held from 1993 to 2011.
The entirety of Chairman Kim Jong Il’s contributions to building and defending the modern Korea and world peace are too numerous to mention. Below are just some notable highlights of his life.
Kim Jong Il was born on February 16, 1942 at a secret encampment on Mount Paektu, the mountain that is spiritual home of the Korean nation, to a family with a long history of patriotic and revolutionary activity. It was from this secret encampment that his family and others led the struggle to liberate Korea from the Japanese colonialists. This struggle was an important contribution to defeating the Axis powers in World War II in 1945.
President Kim Il Sung, founder of modern socialist Korea, would later recount of Kim Jong Il’s upbringing:
“Kim Jong Il had an unusual start to life, as, born to guerrillas, he grew up in clothes impregnated with [gun]powder smoke, eating army rations and hearing shouts of military command.
“He was upright and full of guts from his boyhood, partly because he was endowed with these qualities, but more importantly because he grew up valiantly, free from constraint, learning the truth of life and struggle, among the fighters who had the strongest sense of justice and strongest faith in the world.
“He was precocious, probably because he grew up under the influence of the guerrillas. Their noble feelings and emotions became rich nourishment for his mind and their mettle as soaring as the peak of Mt. Paektu added flesh and blood to his manly personality.”
Kim Jong Il was eight years old when the U.S. and its allies provoked the Korean War, and bore witness to the brutal war crimes inflicted on the Korean people, and was inspired by the unfailing courage, tenacity and resourcefulness of the KPA fighters and their leadership. He followed closely the reports about the enemy’s defeats broadcast by the Supreme Headquarters of the KPA every morning and evening, and marked on a map the south Korean cities, towns and villages which had been liberated by the KPA.
He was an outstanding student, disciplined and dedicated to seeing his work through to completion. One of his teachers noted that he had an “unusually strong spirit of inquiry.” This inquisitiveness included taking an active role in his own political training, making sure to know the works of Kim Il Sung (and in his later youth the classics of Marxism-Leninism) and keeping abreast of political developments at home and abroad.
Kim Jong Il was actively engaged in the political life of the DPRK from an early age. It steeled within him the conviction and the life-long dedication to ensuring that the Korean people would never again be subject to foreign domination nor the hardships and exploitation the people had experienced under the wealthy elite, the Japanese colonialists, the U.S. imperialists or any other foreign power. He concluded at a young age that the Korean people should be the masters of their own destiny and create a society in which all could flourish and contribute to their collective well-being.
In the 1960s, he became an assistant to President Kim Il Sung and joined the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). Kim Jong Il worked closely with Kim Il Sung until the president died in office on July 8, 1994.
Juche and Songun Principles in the Period
of the “Arduous March”
In 1955, after the end of the Korean War, Kim Il Sung sought to sum up the experience of the Korean revolution to that point. Not only had they fought against the Japanese colonialists and U.S. invaders, but the WPK was also receiving pressure from revisionist parties about how it should set its economic policy in a way that would not favour the development of a modern industrial economy in the DPRK. Not only would this base its economy on the extraction of raw materials for export and refinement elsewhere, but it would be subservient to others who held the means of production.
It was out of this experience that Kim Il Sung put forward the Juche policy of self-reliance as the key to the Korean revolution and its socialist nation-building project. The WPK worked to establish that Korean revolutionary theory and practice must be developed on the basis of self-reliance and the Korean revolution and its implementation of Marxism-Leninism to meet the needs of the Korean people. It must not be dogmatic or sycophantic to other parties and countries.
At that time, Kim Jong Il, as part of the Democratic Youth League, made a point of implementing the Juche principle among his peers, notably encouraging the youth to take up the development of Korean culture and literature, as part of taking up the patriotic cause and fidelity to the revolution.
When in 1994, Kim Jong Il succeeded Kim Il Sung as leader of the DPRK, he steadfastly upheld the Juche principle of self-reliance and reinforced its importance to ensuring the sovereignty of the DPRK in a period of great difficulty.
Not only had the country lost the historic and legendary leader of the Korean revolution and founder of the DPRK, but the country was faced with enormous challenges as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, and the loss of trade that this entailed (a situation that the Cuban people also militantly overcame during the time known as the “Special Period”). To boot, the DPRK was subject to calamitous storms and rains that caused widespread flooding at that time. Thus began the period known as the “Arduous March.”
The U.S. imperialists, ever the opportunists with utter disregard for human life, ramped up pressure and economic sanctions against the DPRK. With the end of the bipolar division of the world, the imperialists and their spokespeople were crowing with great hubris about the end of socialism, circling like vultures, awaiting their predicted demise of the DPRK.
Despite all this, Kim Jong Il kept a cool head and took measures to affirm the right to be of the DPRK and its socialist nation-building project. He worked tirelessly to strengthen the WPK ideologically and politically based on the experience of the Korean people and their thought material embodied in the Juche outlook.
Today, the fruits of implementing the Juche principle are seen in the tremendous modernization and all-sided development of the DPRK’s self-reliant economy — heavy industry, consumer goods, agriculture, tourism, education, health care and informatics to name just a few aspects — in the service of the people’s well-being.
Songun is the DPRK’s military-first policy, established by Kim Jong when he became leader of the DPRK. Under this policy, the DPRK has elaborated a definition of defence and security that is completely different from the self-serving aims of the U.S. or aggressive alliances like NATO, which undertake military invasions of other countries in the name of high ideals such as “collective defence,” “human rights” and “universal values.”
The KPA pursues national defence and the people’s security not only by protecting the DPRK from foreign aggression, but its personnel form the backbone of the labour force for the mass construction projects required by the people and nation. As such, the KPA is held in high regard for its vigilance and irreplaceable role in executing the decisive tasks of the day as outlined by the leadership of the country.
Under the Songun policy, the KPA has intervened in areas of the country devastated by natural disasters to assist the people in recovery building homes, dykes and roadways, and has a leading role as a mighty factor in the stunning economic development of the DPRK. The KPA has its own factories, orchards, fish farms, mines and mills as well as are involved in building infrastructure for economic development. The KPA thus became a decisive factor in the DPRK’s success in overcoming the period of the “Arduous March.”
It is also according to the Juche and Songun policies that the DPRK sought to resolve the nuclear issue in its favour, ultimately seeking recourse to a nuclear deterrent to defend itself from foreign aggression.
The U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework was signed in 1994. It was aimed at replacing the DPRK’s nuclear reactors with models deemed resistant to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while the U.S. would provide fuel oil to make up for the shortfall in the DPRK’s energy production during that period. Due to sabotage and noncompliance by the U.S., the agreement fell apart by 2003.
Kim Jong Il nonetheless worked diplomatically through the Six-Party Talks involving the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, the DPRK and Republic of Korea (ROK) to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The talks, which began in 2003 were discontinued in 2009 by the DPRK after it once again became clear that no matter how sincerely the DPRK implemented the decisions taken at each session, the U.S. had no interest in following through on its commitments, still harbouring a desire to take over the entire Korean Peninsula as a forward staging ground for aggression and war.
With the U.S. refusing to hold to its commitments as a genuine partner for peace on the Korean Peninsula, and instead issuing dictate and threats, that has forced the DPRK to develop its nuclear deterrent.
The ongoing division of Korea, that separates families with utmost cruelty, serves only the U.S. imperialists. They use the south as base to bring in all manner of offensive weaponry, including nuclear arms, in violation of international law, to threaten the DPRK, China and Russia, as part of their striving for hegemony. In the south, through draconian national security laws implemented by reactionary and puppet governments in the service of the U.S., the reunification movement in the south has often been stymied. Thus, it has fallen to the DPRK to steadfastly safeguard the cause of reunification and elaborate its principles, on behalf of all the Korean people, through thick and thin.
As leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong Il paid utmost attention to strengthening inter-Korean relations to advance Korean reunification and put an end to the illegal and brutal division of Korea by the U.S., following the Second World War. Through his efforts the historic June 15, 2000 North-South Joint Declaration as well as the October 4, 2007 Joint Agreement were signed between the DPRK and the ROK in Pyongyang which ushered in a period of normalization and trust-building. These included numerous visits between families separated from each other for decades as the result of the Korean War, and important joint projects such as an inter-Korean railway and the Kaesong Industrial Complex which operated from 2003 till 2016, when it was sabotaged and shut down unilaterally by the anti-communist U.S.-puppet ROK government of Park Geun-hye. This project employed workers from the DPRK in enterprises owned by private companies from the ROK in producing goods for the domestic and foreign markets, based on the principle of mutual benefit.
Kim Jong Il also made contributions in numerous fields, particularly arts and culture, always upholding the depiction of the life of the workers and people according to socialist esthetic principles, to inspire and honour them. His book Art of the Cinema written in 1973 is considered a classic at home and abroad. He also conceived a scientific and popular system of dance notation, consistent with the specific features and requirements of the art of dance, which was published in his work Theory of Dancing Art.
In the present era, there continues to be great disinformation about communism and countries that are not appeasers and collaborators of U.S. imperialism but which have taken an independent path consistent with the experience and needs of their people. This disinformation includes slanders directed at the great personalities and historic figures given rise to by the times to realize the peoples’ striving for their well-being and a bright future. Such is the case of the DPRK and Kim Jong Il.
Such disinformation sows mistrust about other peoples and countries, and blocks the development of friendly relations for mutual benefit, in the service of imperialist aggression and war.
On the 80th anniversary of his birth CPC(M-L) pays tribute to the outstanding leader of the Korean revolution Kim Jong Il, and sends its warmest greetings the WPK, the Korean people at home and abroad, and wishes them every success in the work to realize the peaceful and independent reunification of their nation.
CPC(M-L) calls on working people in Canada, Quebec and around the world to become familiar with the DPRK, and the life and work of Kim Jong Il, whose contributions belong not only to Korea but all humanity. Doing so will build the friendly relations between peoples and ensure that working peoples’ opposition to aggression and war and desire for the peaceful resolution of conflicts between peoples and nations, through diplomatic means and for mutual benefit, cannot be undermined.
1. Kim Jong Il, Biography, Foreign Language Publishing House, Pyongyang, Korea, Juche 94 (2005).
(Photos: 75 Great Years of Leadership, Kim Jong Il Biography, KCNA TML, SPARK, Korean Peace LA, Korea Peace Now, Nodutdol, S.H. Choi.)