Centering the Periphery: Manchurian Exile(s) and the North Korean State

Armstrong, Charles K.

Kim Il sung and other Manchurian guerrilla veterans who came to dominate North Korean politics after 1945 were profoundly influenced by the experience of their anti-Japanese struggle in exile. This influence has shaped the ideology, historiography, and domestic and external policies of the DPRK to the present. At the same time, this exile experience has been given a mythical status in North Korean history, centered on the personality and activities of Kim Il Sung, but reflective of earlier attempts to draw Manchuria into the mainstream of Korean history. The "mythification" of Manchuria has grown steadily over time, and since the early 1970s Kim Jong Il has been closely associated with his father's Manchurian guerrilla struggle, in particular with the image of Mt. Paektu.

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January 13, 2014