Kim Il Sung was viewed as hero by the North Korean people for his embellished tales of military prowess fighting the Japanese occupation. Believed by Lavrenty Beria to be a reliably transnational communist, Stalin installed Kim – who had spent decades in exile from Korea – as a puppet leader of in the divided peninsula after the south declared its own statehood. From his position atop the Korean People’s Army and, later, the Korean Worker’s Party, he established a cult of personality that lasted until his death in 1994. By that time, he had groomed his son, Kim Chong Il to take the reins of power. The younger Kim cemented his position over a three year period by winning control of both the National Defense Committee and KWP.
Kim Chong Il is now declining, and hopes to pass his own legacy down to his 29-year old son. Kim Jong-un. This would be the first ever three step, dynastic succession of a purportedly communist country. Which very much might be one degree of separation too many from the “Great Leader”:
“I think he is chosen exactly because he is young,” said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in Seoul. “In case of his father’s sudden death, Kim Jong-un — inexperienced, without power base, embarrassingly young — will have no choice but to obediently follow the instructions of the old guard. He will be a dictator, but merely a rubber-stamping dictator. This is what the people in the position of power want.”
No hope or change for the people of North Korea, it seems.