Saturday, May 27, 2006

Kim: Socialist or Opportunist

In my reading of Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, I have been particularly interested in the role religion played in the early years of Kim Il sung’s life. Specifically, Kim’s relationship with the Reverend Sohn Jong-do raises some interesting questions.

Kim is said to have been an active participant in the activities of the church that the Reverend supervised. The Reverend’s son described Kim, as although influenced by his desire for independence, “he was not strongly opposed to the Christian faith.

Although I had long accepted Kim as a dictatorial leader, I still clung to the belief that he was fundamentally devoted to the tenants of socialism. After reading the accounts documented in Bradley Martin’s book I have come to pose the following questions: To what extent was Kim a socialist? To what extent was Kim a freedom fighter? Was Kim simply an opportunist who utilized the institutions of organized religion and later socialism to reach the ultimate goal of Korean independence?

Ultimately, there are no definitive answers to the questions listed above. Nevertheless, they reveal the complexity that continually defines Korean history.

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