Photos over 70 years show how North Korea's Kim family went from starving guerilla fighters to going toe-to-toe with Trump

A soldier salutes atop an armoured vehicle as it drives past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

  • The North Korean state has defied all the odds and constant forecasts of its impending doom to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding on September 9, 2018.
  • North Korea has a dark and tortured history going back millennia as regional powers like China and Japan have sought to dominate it. 
  • The story of North Korea really is the story of the Kim dynasty founded by Kim Il Sung in response to Japanese colonization of Korea and its attempts to beat and break Korean identity. 
  • In this slideshow, follow the harrowing story of the often brutal Kim family and how they came from starving guerilla fighters to stand toe to toe with President Donald Trump.

September 9, 2018 marks 70 years of the small, impoverished state of North Korea defying major world powers to exist as a bastion of Korean identity and revolutionary, and often brutal politics.

North Korea’s story begins in earnest with the Kim family that would become the stuff of legends and propaganda alike. Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and now Kim Jong Un have proven wrong seven decades of US leaders who bet on their spectacular demise, with 2018 emerging as a banner year.

This year, North Korea — the most heavily sanctioned country on earth — managed to build powerful nuclear weapons and missiles at home that can fly halfway around the world to the shock and awe of its mortal enemy and the world’s greatest superpower: The US.

But the amazing leaps of military engineering, and acts of deep spite and distrust to the US, have come at a heavy price. North Korea funnels about a quarter of its budget into the military while 18 million of its 25 million people rely on government rations to survive. Of them, 10.5 million are thought to be undernourished.

Any North Korean at any time can be imprisoned or put to death for the slightest deviation from the government’s narrative, and each citizen must complete mandatory military service. 

But despite North Korea’s horrific human rights record and open nuclear threats towards the US, Kim met President Donald Trump as equals this year in a truly epochal change in bilateral relations.

Scroll down to find out how the strange and mysterious history of the Kim family shaped North Korea into the land of contradictions it is today. 

Korea, a peninsula between powerful Chinese and Japanese empires, forged its own unique identity under the Chosun dynasty from the 14th to 20th centuries. Below is the first known photograph of Koreans ever taken.

Despite the strong identity and culture, Chinese influence permeated much of its culture. The rigid ideas of Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, shaped Korean ideas of loyalty and ritual as proper behavior in relationships, citizenship, and society.

In 1910, the peninsula’s days of self-rule came to a brutal end when Japan forcefully colonized it and then ruled with an iron first. Japan brought to Korea its own racial purity and hierarchy-obsessed ideas.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Source: Business insider

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