"They Wanted to Cut Off My Head": The Impact of the People's Republic of China on the Personality Cult of Kim Il Sung, 1956-1969

Mulrenin, Zachary, East Asian Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Seeley, Joseph, AS-History, University of Virginia

Kim Il Sung felt a palpable threat from China during the mid-1960s when Sino-North Korean relations were at their lowest point. There was an historical precedent for Kim to have felt threatened by China, and this work explores how Kim Il Sung may have promoted his personality cult to stave off threats at home as well as from China. Furthermore, in the mid-1960s, Kim Il Sung’s personality cult took on elements of the cult of Mao Zedong. Most works overwhelmingly focus on Stalinist influence on North Korean society, including the Kim personality cult. While Stalinism undoubtedly had an enormous influence on North Korea, it was not necessarily the sole influence. This paper argues that Sino-North Korean relations, and in particular the Cultural Revolution, had a significant impact on how the personality cult of Kim Il Sung developed and drove it to its highest level of intensity by 1969.

MA (Master of Arts)
kim il sung, north korea, dprk, personality cult, cult of personality, china, cultural revolution, people's republic of china, prc, democratic people's republic of korea, kapsan purge, august faction, mao zedong, sino-north korean relations
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