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“North Korea: Secrets and Lies” [LIFE]

In Asia, World News on September 1, 2009 at 3:30 am
Photo: Howard Sochurek./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Photo: Howard Sochurek./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Kim Il-Sung and His Friends From Moscow

North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung (front right) sits with a group of uniformed Russian advisers, around 1950. The two modern Koreas were formed when the Soviets and United States divided political control of the Korean peninsula after the fall of the Japanese Empire in World War II in 1945.

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Kim Il-Sung: Man of the People

Kim Il-Sung chats with workers on an unofficial visit to a machine plant in 1967. Kim launched North Korea on five- and seven-year plans to rebuild its infrastructure, promoting a concept he called “juche.” It emphasized utter self-reliance as a national goal — and demanded absolute obedience to him. In 1972, juche replaced Marxism and Leninism as the official state ideology.

Photo: Andrew Wong/Getty Images

Photo: Andrew Wong/Getty Images

Tributes for the Eternal Leader

North Koreans pay tribute to a giant bronze statue of Kim Il-Sung after news that the government had its first atomic-bomb test. Modern TV pundits are quick to write off North Korea’s mercurial and secretive nature as a sign of national insanity, but they forget about its history of having a tenuous hold on its sovereignty and independence. After the end of the war, for example, Kim had to navigate extremely treacherous political waters when North Korea’s primary sponsor countries and neighbors, the Soviets and the Chinese, underwent a bitter ideological split.

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Korea: Military State

Despite the country’s malnourished economy and infrastructure, the North Korean military is the nation’s primary employer, consumer, and unifying force. Some reports say the military sucks up a quarter of North Korea’s gross domestic product (the official figure is 15.8 percent), and about one in five men from 17 to 54 is in the military.

go to http://www.life.com/image/50868747/in-gallery/26532/north-korea-secrets-and-lies to see the complete 26 image slideshow and to learn more interesting facts like “From 1997, the official North Korean calendar was altered so that Year 1 was the year of Kim’s birth.”

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