08.07.

1994: Death of the North Korean Dictator Kim Il-sung

1994: Death of the North Korean Dictator Kim Il-sung
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/Kim on a 1956 visit to East Germany, chatting with painter Otto Nagel and Prime Minister Otto Grotewohl

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 8 July 1994
  • Kim Il-sung was buried in a luxurious mausoleum, where his body was embalmed and placed in a glass coffin so that visitors can see him. This mode of burial is characteristic of communist leaders and was modeled on Lenin, Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh. The refurbishment of that palace into the mausoleum reportedly cost at least $100 million (some say even $900 million), which was a shameless waste of money for a country in which a large part of the population was starving.

On this day the North Korean communist leader Kim Il-sung died. 

The cause of death was a heart attack. Kim Il-sung was already at an advanced age of 82 and for some time before his death he struggled with some form of hardening of the arteries.

 It is interesting that his son Kim Jong-il, when learned that his father suffered a severe heart attack, fired the doctors who were constantly with his father’s bed and invited the best experts from Pyongyang to replace them.

When they arrived a few hours later, it was too late, and Kim Il-sung passed away. A big funeral was organized, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of people many of whom dramatically mourned the passing of the leader.

He was buried in the luxurious mausoleum, where his body was embalmed and placed in a glass coffin so that visitors can see him.

This mode of burial is characteristic of communist leaders and was modeled on Lenin, Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh (they all have their mausoleums, and Stalin’s body was also ceremonially on display until 1961). 

Mausoleum of Kim Il-sung was designed by conversion of the presidential palace in which he lived and from where he ruled over North Korea (the so-called Kumsusan Palace of the Sun).

The refurbishment of that palace in the mausoleum reportedly cost at least $100 million (some say even $900 million), which was a shameless waste of money for a country in which a large part of the population was starving.

Kim Il-sung during life had the title of “Eternal President” and “The Great Leader”, while his son and future heir was referred to as “Dear Leader”. 

After the death of his father, Kim Jong-il took power and held it until his death in 2011.

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