The Kim Dynasty / family tree

The Kim family of North Korea is an enigma to many including myself. Most of the policies implemented by its ‘Great Leader'(s) are hard to understand, some of which infringe upon the basic rights of its citizens, in addition to its irrational demands.

This is what I found based on my research of the Kim family. I have noted down facts which I deem interesting;

Maybe knowing more about the Kim family tree and its history will allow us to better understand why these leaders did and do the things that they do; not in the sense that they can gain our sympathy and support, but so that we can gain greater clarity and insight behind their actions and behaviors.



The Kim Dynasty can be said to be akin to that of a ‘royal family’. So far, the Kim Dynasty has ruled North Korea since 1948 for three generations.

(1) Kim Il-Sung 

  • Born 15 April 1912 to Methodist parents
  • Received most of his formal education in China
  • Rebelled against Japanese rule in 1930s (anti-Japanese activist)
  • Involvement & training in Soviet Union, at Khaborovsk where he joined the 88th Sniper Brigade under the Soviet Far East Command.
  • Came to lead Soviet-backed provisional government of North Korea after withdrawal of Japan in 1945,
  • Eventually became 1st Premier of DPRK
  • Started Korean War in attempt to reunify the Korean Peninsula
  • Had 2 wives, 3 children from each wife; Kim Jong-Il is from the 1st wife
  • Personality cult; uncontested 46 year rule (1948-1994)
  • Affectionately known as ‘Great Leader’
  • Started investing in nuclear power early 1994 to offset energy shortages brought on by economic problems


(2) Kim Jong-il

  • Born 1941, ruled North Korea from 1994-2011
  • 4 partners, at least 5 children
  • 14 years grooming period before becoming North Korea’s leader
  • Inherited personality of cult from his father and founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung
  • Affectionately known as ‘Dear Leader’, ‘Great General’, ‘Eternal Leader’ (posthumous) (January 2012 – present)
  • North Korean government system became even more centralized and autocratic during the 1980s and 1990s under Kim Jong-il
  • His sister, Kim Kyong-hui, was North Korea’s first 4-star general. Her husband Jang Sung-taek was the 2nd most powerful person in North Korea prior to Kim Jong-Un calling for his execution in 2013
Painting featuring Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, surrounded by adoring Exchildren. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

(3) Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong Un
Source: (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
  • Born 8 January 1983/4
  • 3rd and youngest son of Kim Jong-il
  • Became North Korea’s leader on December 29, 2011
  • Known as ‘Supreme Leader’
  • Believed by some that the Cheonan sinking and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong was aimed to strengthen his military credentials and faciliate his transition as North Korea’s leader after his father
  • Ordered execution of uncle Jang Sung-taek in December 2013 on charges of corruption
  • Married to Ri Sol-ju
  • World’s youngest state leader




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Currently living and pursuing my undergraduate studies in South Korea.

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