July 8, 1994: President Kim Il Sung dies of a myocardial infarction while preparing one of his dachas for a visit by then South Korean President Kim Young Sam for what was to be the first ever inter-Korean summit. Now, given all that was going on (the nuclear issue, Kim’s sudden decision on the barge with Jimmy Carter to resolve the nuclear issue and have the visit from Kim YS, there remains some suspicion that Kim’s heart attack may not have been induced only by stress, but perhaps other contributing factors. After all, there was a major purge rumored once Kim Jong Il came in, and plenty of reports of military officials dieing of rapid lead poisoning on a hill overlooking Pyongyang. Now, it could be that Kim Il Sung’s decisions to change North Korea back in 1994 (changes only now being slowly put in place by Kim Jong Il) were because he new his death was imminent, or it could be that the changes so challenged the status quo for the elite that they couldn’t allow them to occur. Either way, Kim JI operates under a relatively narrow realm of constraints – he cannot continue to maintain the country under the closed system reliant on the (not so) good will of the Chinese and Russians; neither can he rapidly change the country and remain in power. In all cases, each reform threatens his grip either through the potential backlash by those disenfranchised or losing some privileges or by the interim instability the reforms create (see the troubles Beijing continues to face with its reform, and the steady rise in social uprisings).
Song of General Kim Il Sung
Condensed Biography of Kim Il Sung
Brief Biography of Kim Il Sung
Short Biography of Kim Il Sung
Chronology of Kim Il Sung’s Major Activities
Kim Il Sung Study Room