May 25, 2024

Kim’s North Korea – not the Soviets’

The North's founder gained independence from Moscow through guile, determination and good luck

Last time we looked at the early days of Kim Il Sung’s dominance, but saw that much of those early decisions originated with Soviet officials, or at least needed Soviet approval.

With the Korean War over and Stalin dead, the Soviets attempted a similar level of influence. Soon after the war, Kim Il Sung started Soviet-style collectivization in the countryside, which led to farmers being put on a brink of starvation. A peremptory shout from the Soviet embassy followed, which, being translated from diplomatic Russian to normal English, sounded like: “What the hell are you doing, fool? You’ll starve the people and will get an uprising on your hands! Have it reversed at once!” Kim did as he was told and the pace of collectivization stopped for the time being.

Become a member for less than $4 per week.

  • Unlimited access to all of NK News: reporting, investigations, analysis
  • The NK News Daily Update, an email newsletter to keep you in the loop
  • Searchable archive of all content, photo galleries, special columns
  • Contact NK News reporters with tips or requests for reporting
Get unlimited access to all NK News content, including original reporting, investigations, and analyses by our team of DPRK experts.
Subscribe now

All major cards accepted. No commitments – you can cancel any time.