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Kim Jong-suk facts for kids

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Kim Jong-suk-dik
Kim Jeong Suk 1.jpg
Born (1917-12-24)24 December 1917
Osan-dong, Hoeryong, North Hamgyong, Japanese Korea
Died 22 September 1949(1949-09-22) (aged 31)
Spouse(s) Kim Il-sung (1941–1949)
Children Kim Jong-il
Kim Man-il
Kim Kyong-hui

Kim Jong-suk (December 24, 1917 – September 22, 1949) was a Korean anti-Japanese guerrilla, a Communist activist, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung's second wife, former leader Kim Jong-il's mother, and current leader Kim Jong-un's grandmother.


Birthplace of Kim Jong-suk
Birthplace of Kim Jong-suk in Hoeryong

Kim Jong-suk was born on December 24, 1917 in Hoeryong County, North Hamgyong Province, Japanese Korea. Kim Jong-suk followed her mother to Manchuria to look for her father, but they discovered that he had already died there. Soon after that, her mother died and she became an orphan.

Most sources agree that Kim Jong-suk then joined Kim Il-sung’s guerrilla force in 1935 or 1936 as a kitchen helper. The KCNA, however, reports that Kim Jong-suk and Kim Ki-song joined the guerrilla forces after their mother and their elder brother’s wife were murdered by the Japanese.

During this time, Kim Jong-suk worked various odd jobs, was arrested by the Japanese in 1937 in an undercover attempt to secure food and supplies. After her release, she rejoined the guerrillas, where she cooked, sewed, and washed.

Kim Jeong Suk 2
Kim Jong-suk in her youth

It was around this time that Kim Jong-suk reportedly saved Kim Il-sung’s life. Kim Jong-suk married Kim Il Sung in the Soviet Union, most likely in 1941. On February 16, 1941, in the Soviet village of Vyatskoye, Kim Jong-suk gave birth to Kim Jong-il. In 1944, Kim Jong-suk gave birth to a second son, Kim Man-il. In 1946, she gave birth to daughter, Kim Kyŏng-hŭi.

Kim Jong-suk
Kim Jong-suk as a young girl

A year after the establishment of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and until her death, Kim Jong-suk was the first lady of North Korea. According to some accounts, Kim Jong-suk "was a small, quiet woman, not particularly well educated, but friendly and life-loving." Major General N.G. Lebedev, an executive Soviet officer during the Soviet occupation of North Korea, recalled Kim Jong-suk as "a vivacious and generous lady who always cooked enormous amounts of food for the hungry Soviet generals when they visited Kim’s home."

Death and legacy

Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery 29
Grave of Kim Jong-suk at the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery

Kim Jong-suk died in Pyongyang in 1949. The official story is that she died from the hardships she had endured during the years as a guerrilla fighter. Her death, however, is omitted from her official biography.

After Kim Jong il succeeded Kim Il Sung, he began to make his mother, Kim Jong-suk, into "a revolutionary immortal." This campaign created Kim Jong-suk as the quiet woman that she was, she became the heroine of the revolution.

Kim Jong-suk was recorded to have "conducted on-the-spot guidance sessions" and was a "great strategist". In her home town of Hoeryong there is a museum, library, statue, square and the house in which she was born devoted to the 'Mother of Korea'". She arranged parachute training and won several shooting competitions.

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