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1940s

Liberation and Division

Korea was liberated following the end of WWII in 1945. However, the U.S. and Soviet forces occupied the territories to the north and south of the 38th parallel, laying the foundations for the division of the Peninsula.

Kim Il-sung speaks at a mass congress in Pyongyang’s Gongsul Stadium, Oct.14,1945

Backed by the Soviet Union, Kim Il-sung rose to power and entrenched himself as head of the newly established North Korean Provisional People’s Committee. On 1946, the organization was re-established as the North Korean Workers’ Party, which enacted fundamentally communist policies such as the redistribution of agricultural lands. On September 9, 1948, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) was proclaimed.

The controversy over a proposed U.N. (United Nations) trusteeship, conflicts between right and left wing groups, and the Cold War climate that dominated the Peninsula combined to bring about the proclamation. Under U.N. supervision, a democratic election was held in South Korea only, and on August 15, 1948 the ROK (Republic of Korea) was proclaimed. Thus, the Peninsula had been divided completely.

The Proclamation of the DPRK

Efforts to establish a so-called ‘Proletariat Dictatorship’ started directly following the end of WWII in 1945 and the ensuing occupation by Soviet forces. By 1945, people’s committees had been organized in each of the five provinces. These later became a confederation under Soviet command and were reorganized as the Five-Province Administrative Bureau on the 8th of October. In 1946, general elections were held to appoint members of provincial, city, and county committees.

The next year, 237 members of the North Korean People’s Assembly were appointed at a general meeting of regional committees. Its first meeting (Feb. 21~22) resulted in the creation of the Provisional North Korean People’s Committee of 22 members, with Kim Il-sung as Chairman. When the U.N. General Assembly decided that free elections should be held throughout Korea and organized the U.N. Provisional Commission, North Korea accelerated efforts to establish a ‘People’s Republic’.

The September 8, 1948 SPA meeting, where Kim Il-sung was made Chairman. (from the left): Kim Chaek (Vice-Chairman), Park Hun-young (President of the Namrodang), Kim Il-sung

In the 3rd meeting of the People’s Assembly (Nov. 18~19), a Provisional Constitutional Committee was organized. By December 20 1947, a draft of the constitution had been drawn up and was validated by a special Assembly meeting (April 28, 1948) as the ‘Constitution of the People’s Republic’. On August 25, elections were held to appoint the first 212 members of the SPA (Supreme People’s Assembly, resulting in a 99.97% voter turnout and 98.49% affirmative votes. North Korea also announced that 360 more members to the SPA had been elected at the conference of the ‘South Korean People’s Representatives’.

The first meeting of the SPA of 572 members was held in Pyongyang (Sep. 2~10), during which the constitution was officially validated and the government of the ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’ was proclaimed, with Kim Il-sung as Chairman. (Sep. 9)