How Did Kim Il-Sung Come to Power?

Kim Il-sung came to power in North Korea after World War II through the influence of the Soviet Union. Kim fought alongside the Soviets during that war, and Stalin appointed him as head of the Provisional People's Committee, an organization that became the ruling party in North Korea.

After fighting a guerrilla war against the Japanese in Korea during the 1930s, Kim retreated to the Soviet Union, where he joined the Red Army and rose to the rank of major. Following the Allied victory in World War II, the Soviet army occupied Korea north of the 38th parallel. Stalin installed Kim as the head of the Korean Communist Party and then of the Provisional People's Committee, which governed the Soviet-occupied area of Korea. He began to form the Korean People's Army to consolidate his power.

On Sept. 9, 1945, Kim defied a United Nations plan to hold elections throughout Korea by declaring himself Prime Minister of an independent Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea. The next month, the USSR recognized Kim's government as the legitimate authority not only in North Korea, but throughout the Korean peninsula. Kim consolidated his power by forming the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, a political movement in which his party took the dominant role.

Additionally, Kim promoted a cult of personality, calling himself "Dear Leader" and creating posters and statues to display his accomplishments and authority.