February 21, 2024

A Day That Would Change Korea’s Future: The Birth Of Kim Il Sung

On the 101 anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth, Brandon K. Gauthier looks back to a day that would go on to change the future of the peninsula

Kim Il Sung, just six-years old, watched as thousands of protestors screamed: “Long live the independence of Korea!” Caught up in the excitement of the March 1, 1919 rally, the young boy ran barefoot after the group, straw sandals in hand—anxious to keep up. As the throngs reached Potong Gate in western Pyongyang, shots rang out.  Japanese forces charged the protestors with unforgiving bloodshed.  Innocents died.

Seventy years later, the North Korean leader remembered that moment vividly: “…the demonstrators resisted the enemy fearlessly, becoming human weapons…This was the first time I saw one man killing another.”