In 1980, Kim Il Sung presented a program to establish the Democratic Confederate Republic of Koryo (Koryo was the name of the dynasty that ruled Korea 935–1392). It was to be an alliance-free state with two different systems and each a different government. In 1991, when both states became members of the UN, they agreed to respect each other’s different systems.
In 1993, towards the end of his life, Kim Il Sung came up with a new collection proposal. A date was set for a meeting between him and South Korea’s then president, but then Kim Il Sung died. Thus, there was no summit until Kim Dae Jung visited Kim Jong Il in June 2000.
The Sunshine Policy 1998–07 constitutes the most systematic attempt so far to create an rapprochement between the two Korean states, but strong counter-forces thus halted the peace process. What we do not know enough about is what has happened to the attitudes of the poor North Korean people – whether most people are still loyal to Kim Jong Il, the army and the juche idea or whether many have given in to doubt. Many must have realized how much more prosperous and free they can become if the leadership takes the example of China, implements market economic reforms and opens up for international trade. But in North Korea, it is impossible to criticize the country’s government. It takes so little to end up in prison or labor camp.
The big question is whether the political system can survive the gradual introduction of a market economy that the regime hesitantly allows to happen – or whether the state collapses when it can no longer have full control. Both in the north and south – and the neighboring countries – there are fears of a collapse. China does not want an influx of refugees. Many Koreans already live in neighboring Chinese provinces. This is one of the reasons why China is holding its hand over the problem child Kim Jong Il and opposing US and Japanese demands for strong international sanctions to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.
On August 15, 2010, President Lee Myung Bak delivered a speech on the 65th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule. He addressed both his fellow citizens of the Republic of Korea and “our brothers in the North” and launched a three-point plan for national reunification:
- liquidation of all nuclear programs
- comprehensive cooperation to develop North Korea economically
- create joint institutions with a view to national reunification
“Reunification is going to happen,” Lee Myung Bak assured, launching a new idea: a reunification tax. The purpose was to prepare the South Koreans for the enormous expenses that will be required if the North Koreans are to be raised to the South Koreans’ level of prosperity. Many who heard the speech wondered if Lee Myung Bak really believes in a peaceful reunion of two equal parties, or if he is aiming for a “German solution”, where one state ends up on the scrap heap of history, while the other takes over – and pays.
6: Kim Jong Il
According to THEMAKEUPEXPLORER, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was born on February 16, 1941, near the Soviet city of Khabarovsk, the eldest son of Kim Il Sung and his first wife Kim Jong Suk. Kim Jong Il is currently North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Dear Leader, Commander – in – Chief of the Army and Secretary General of the Korean Labor Party. Sometimes he is called “Our Father”.
In November 1945, he arrived in Korea on a Soviet ship. During the Korean War, he probably received an education in China, and in 1960 he began as a student at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, where he studied Marxist theory. Shortly after graduating in 1964, he received his first political office in the Korean Labor Party. He fell in love with film at an early age and has a large film collection. In the 1970s, he took a number of different leadership positions and in 1980 emerged as the party’s real leader. It was now that he was officially given the title “dear leader”, while his father, Kim Il Sung, was “the great leader”.
When Kim Il Sung died in July 1994, aged 82, Kim Jong Il did not immediately take over as president and official party leader. He waited three years to gather all the threads in his hand. Maybe out of respect for the father. Maybe because he had to secure adequate support. As North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il has visited China several times, most recently in August 2010, to study the country’s economic success.
But he has not dared or wanted to implement market economic reforms at home. As a result, North Korea has stagnated economically, become one of the world’s poorest countries and dependent on outside aid. Although the population suffered a severe famine in 1997-98, there was no revolt. Kim Jong Il retained power. In 2008, he had major health problems. The media reported on diabetes as well as several strokes. This increased speculation about who will be
Kim Jong Il’s successor – and when.