(male narrator) In North Korea, a nation is in mourning.
Their dictator for the past 48 years, Kim Il Sung is dead.
(Michael Madden) For the North Koreans, Kim Il Sung was a living god.
And these people were being told that god was dead.
(Jean H. Lee) They were shocked.
Because they had been raised to think of him as a god, they didn't know that he was even mortal.
(narrator) But the myth of Kim's divinity concealed a darker truth.
Behind the facade was a brutal ruler, whose regime imprisoned, killed, and tortured hundreds of thousands.
[loud applause] (Natasha Ezrow) Kim Il Sung created an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.
And everybody knew that they needed to get in line.
[speaking Korean] He needed to have absolute control over the people.
That means controlling what they think, where they work, what they eat.
(Natasha Ezrow) There's no country in the world that exercises more control and power over its citizens than North Korea.
(narrator) Ironically, the man who turned his country into a kind of prison, spent much of his youth fighting for Korean independence.
[loud cheering] How did a man who risked his life for the freedom of his people become their oppressor and build one of the most controlled societies on earth?
(woman) Dictatorships have had an incredible impact in the past century.
These dictators ended up learning from one another.
(man) They're all different but many use the same tactics.
(woman) The use of terror.
(woman) Control the elites.
Create an enemy.
Cult of personality.
(man) Use violence-- these are tools that dictators use to stay in power.
[drumrolls & loud applause] [singing in Korean] (male narrator) The dictatorship Kim Il Sung created in North Korea still survives, nearly 25 years after his death.
Kim created the system with himself at the apex of power that has lasted now for almost 70 years.
It's been led by the same family now onto the 3rd generation, and that's really an extraordinary record.
[steady beat of boots hitting the pavement] (narrator) Today's North Korea, ruled by Kim Jong Un, remains a tightly controlled totalitarian state.
If you study Kim Jong Un's ideology, his strategy, his policy, it is very similar to that of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, but with a more modern vent.
This is really one of the most isolated and strictly-regulated societies in the world.
(narrator) The seeds of this extreme dictatorship were sown more than 100 years ago, in a time of turmoil for Korea.
In 1910, the country was annexed by Japan.
Japan's growing empire wanted Korea as an access point to strike at its rivals, China and Russia.
For Koreans, decades of suffering were about to begin.
(Michael Madden) The Japanese really put in an ethnic cleansing program.
They changed the names of Korean citizens, and they basically tried to eradicate the Korean language.
(narrator) Those who resisted were tortured and executed.
This is the world Kim Il Sung is born into in 1912, 2 years after the occupation began.
In a village just outside the Korean city of Pyongyang his parents name him Kim Song Ju.
This is a kid who was named Song-Ju, which means pillar of the country, and so he was expected by his parents to do something amazing.
(narrator) Kim's mother and father introduce him to Christianity as a young boy.
(Bruce Cumings) Pyongyang was the center of Christianity in Korea.
It was known as "The Jerusalem of the East."
(narrator) Kim learns the organ and plays it in his parents' church.
But just before his 7th birthday, his innocence is shattered when his father is arrested for protesting against the Japanese occupation.
His father was arrested during the 1919 independence demonstrations against the Japanese.
(narrator) Kim's father is involved in the local resistance movement against Japanese oppression.
He and other protestors are jailed and treated unmercifully.
(Jean H. Lee) Kim was taken to see his father in prison.
And that image of his father, beaten, bruised, tortured, completely emaciated, was seared into his memory.
(narrator) Watching his father suffer instills in Kim a hatred of the Japanese.
At 19, he commits his life to his parents' cause.
He joins a Communist guerilla group, battling the Japanese Army in the mountains near the Korean-Chinese border.
(Bruce Cumings) It's a very mountainous area, extremely hot in the summer, and bone-chilling cold in the winter, down to 40 degrees below zero-- the absolute worst circumstances.
[loud & rapid gunfire & explosions] (narrator) Kim's success in raids against Japanese strongholds establishes his reputation as a heroic freedom fighter.
(Bruce Cumings) He was a tall man for a Korean, over 6 feet tall, strong, smart, illusive, a really remarkable guerilla.
[loud explosions] (narrator) By 24, Kim had risen through the ranks, leading hundreds of men in crippling raids on Japanese positions.
As his fame grows, he becomes an almost legendary figure.
By the late 1930s, Kim Il Sung is the most wanted guerilla leader fighting the Japanese.
They send divisions of men into the mountains to hunt him down.
in 1938 and '39, the Japanese threw tens of thousands of soldiers against Kim Il Sung and other guerillas.
These were pitched battles on a major scale.
(narrator) The Japanese killed thousands of guerillas, but not Kim.
His fellow revolutionaries give him the name Kim Il Sung, meaning become the sun.
(Michael Madden) And that's the name that stuck.
Without being a guerilla, there is no Kim Il Sung.
He got pressed in the southern part of Korea, Europe, China, Russia, I mean it was all over the place.
(narrator) In the decades to come, Kim's legend as a freedom fighter will give rise to a defining feature of his dictatorship.
The cult of personality is the idea that the leader possesses superhuman qualities, that the leader is a savior to the nation.
Dictators build personality cults because it enables them to mesmerize the public, to ensure that the public adores them.
Kim Il Sung was able to do it on a level that we've never seen before.
(narrator) In time, Kim's days as a guerilla leader will provide the cornerstone of the cult of personality built around him.
That was an enormous element of his prestige and legitimacy when he started out, and it remains the core legitimacy of the regime.
(narrator) But in the spring of 1941, Kim's dictatorship is a long way off.
The guerilla movement has been crushed by the Japanese.
Kim and his guerilla fighters are forced to flee.
They take refuge in the last safe place left-- the Soviet Union.
The Soviet army embraces Kim for his resistance to the Japanese.
They make him captain and put him in charge of some 160 Korean guerillas.
Kim and his guerillas train for action against the Japanese.
But in June 1941, Germany invades the Soviet Union forcing the country to defend its western borders.
[loud explosions] Kim finds himself sidelined in the Soviet Far East.
While waiting for action, he closely observes their iron-fisted leader.
(Michael Madden) Kim Il Sung was a student of Joseph Stalin.
He had immense respect for Joseph Stalin.
(narrator) Kim has begun a common stage in the development of many dictators.
(Natasha Ezrow) Dictators learn from each other all the time about how they rise to power, about how to deal with opponents, about how you maintain a dictatorship for decades on end.
So for many dictators, Joseph Stalin is actually a role model.
(narrator) Stalin used his own cult of personality to secure his position and transform the Soviet Union into an industrial and military powerhouse.
[speaking in Russian] (Natasha Ezrow) He cultivated an image that he was the father of the nation, that he was a strong leader.
But he also was really adept at using fear to insure loyalty.
So for anyone that wanted to learn from Stalin, they learned quite a bit about the level of brutality that was needed, particularly in the beginning of the regime to ensure mass compliance.
(narrator) More than 500 miles from home, Kim seems light-years away from using such tactics.
But with World War II coming to an end, things are about to change.
[extremely loud explosions] While Kim is sidelined in the Soviet Far East, the allies crush Hitler's armies in Germany.
Sensing an oppportunity, Joseph Stalin declares war on Kim's sworn enemy, Japan.
Along with the United States, the Soviets drive the Japanese from Korea.
Kim's dream since he was 7 years old, to see a Korea free from Japanese occupiers, has finally been realized.
But there's a complication.
The Soviets came in from the north and the Americans came in from the south, and they agreed to divide the peninsula at the 38th parallel.
(narrator) Korea is now divided and controlled by 2 foreign powers.
In the north, the Soviets need Koreans they can trust to help stabilize their occupation.
They recruit Kim and send him home to Korea.
His years of exile are over.
He was brought to Pyongyang and installed by the Soviets as their man in Pyongyang.
He was somebody that they saw could really carry out some of the Soviet objectives.
(narrator) The Soviets appoint Kim to a key position, Deputy Commandant in Pyongyang.
He acts as a liaison between Soviet occupying forces and local Koreans.
It's his first taste of political power, and his ambition kicks in.
He begins to envision himself as the one man who can bring North and South Korea back together again, and sets his sights on the leadership of the nation.
(Jean H. Lee) But what motivated him, I mean, it was personal ambition plus the mission to build a country.
He was motivated by a desire to make this country intact.
(narrator) But if Kim is going to become the ruler of Soviet-controlled Korea, he'll have to convince them he's the man for the job.
Kim Il Sung's greatest strength was his charisma and his interpersonal skills.
I think that helped him enormously.
(narrator) Kim gets a chance to use these skills in the fall of 1945 when resentment against the Soviets begins to build.
Many Koreans feel they've traded one occupier for another.
They want a Korea free from outside interference.
When Korea was occupied by the Soviet Union, there was a lot of turmoil, a lot of uncertainty about the political direction of the country.
The Soviets put communists in control and a lot of people resented that.
There came to be quite a bit of anti-communist sentiment, particularly among a lot of young people.
(narrator) November 23, 1945, in Sinuiju, a city on the border with China, Soviet and Korean forces cracked down on an anti-communist student protest.
Sinuiju is a mess, hundreds of people were injured and there's estimates that 100 students died.
(narrator) Student protests against the violence erupt across North Korea.
The Soviets send Kim to Sinuiju in a last-ditch attempt to restore order.
It's the opportunity he's been waiting for.
Kim was able to calm things down and to say the communists are not your enemy, we have to work together to create a system for everyone, and it really helped.
He was a natural hands-on leader, and I think maybe at Sinuiju that was first demonstrated.
(narrator) Prominent Soviets are impressed by Kim's skill in diffusing the uprising.
[loud applause] They put him in charge of the puppet government they've installed in North Korea.
(Bruce Cumings) In February 1946, he became head of the first national government and it's really from that time on that we can see Kim Il Sung's dominance of the North Korean system.
(narrator) Kim the guerilla fought for his country's liberation for nearly 2 decades; Kim the politician has taken just 4 months to become its ruler.
But he's still under the Soviet umbrella.
To govern the country on his own, he needs to show the Soviets he can run a successful communist country that's loyal to them.
He can only do that if he has the support of his people.
Kim turns to a tactic familiar to many would-be dictators.
When dictators first take power, they often try to get consent by appealing to as many people as possible, trying to please the masses, trying to ensure that they are loyal to them.
They wouldn't want to incite some sort of revolution.
The first way is that they try to provide the public with some kind of good and service, like access to education, access to water, electricity.
They may make gas much cheaper, they may be lowering taxes.
They want to ensure that the masses feel that there's a need for this dictatorship.
(narrator) To win his people over, Kim makes a dramatic offer.
(Bruce Cumings) Kim Il Sung announced a land reform.
Peasants were given land free, they got 3 chungbo, which is a fairly small farm, but one that would sustain a family.
(narrator) For the first time in centuries, farmers can call the land their own.
(Jean H. Lee) Giving them control over their land, giving them a sense of ownership again after hundreds of years of feudal rule, and then these brutal 35 years of Japanese occupation, gave the Koreans a sense of pride and a vision of a new Korea.
(narrator) Kim gives 2.4 million acres of land to more than 700,000 farmers and their families.
(Charles K. Armstrong) That's a huge boost to Kim's popularity.
Now you have maybe 70% of the Korean population which has directly, materially, benefited from the policies of the new regime.
So that was a very effective tool of getting popular consent for Kim.
(narrator) But Kim still needs consent from a group even more important than the masses.
(Natasha Ezrow) The elites are the biggest threat to any dictator.
They have to make sure that this elite group is unified and incredibly loyal.
If they can't do that, they are at risk of being overthrown.
(narrator) After using the carrot with the masses, Kim uses the stick with the elites-- high ranking communists and other rivals he doesn't trust.
Kim was very shrewd in dealing with his enemies.
He sent them to South Korea-- people who had served the Japanese, military officers, and other Korean communists-- all potential rivals.
(narrator) Over the next 2 years, Kim takes one more step to show the Soviets he's capable of ruling the country without their help-- by proving he can defend it.
Building from a core group of some 200 of his old guerrilla comrades and amasses an army of more than 60,000 soldiers.
[Kim speaking Korean] (narrator) By 1948, the Soviets are convinced Kim has a firm hold on the country.
They begin to pull out.
For the first time in almost 5 decades, North Korea is free from foreign control... and Kim is the undisputed leader.
He finally has the power to go for his ultimate goal, one shared by many in his country-- unifying North and South Korea.
Kim wanted the peninsula unified as it had been for thousands of years before, under a single government.
Kim Il Sung saw himself as the great unifier.
A unified Korea without foreign troops.
(narrator) In the summer of 1949, Kim sees his chance.
The U.S. has pulled most of its troops from South Korea.
Its borders are now defended by 60,000 South Korean soldiers.
When Kim doubles his army to 120,000 men, the South Koreans are outnumbered 2 to 1.
[loud applause] [Kim speaks Korean] [extremely loud explosions and machine-gun fire] (narrator) One year later, Kim invades South Korea.
[extremely loud explosions and gunfire] Kim's army steamrolls the outnumbered South Korean forces and pins them into a small corner of the country.
He believes his dream of a unified Korea is about to come true...
But Kim's made a major miscalculation.
What he did not seem to understand was that South Korea had become important to the United States.
(narrator) Worried about the global spread of communism, U.S. President Harry Truman has appealed to the UN for support in defending South Korea.
If the United Nations yields to the forces of aggression, no nation will be safe or secure.
(narrator) September, 1950.
[extremely loud explosions] With Kim on the verge of victory, a UN force led by American troops carries out a daring counterattack... [extremely loud explosions and machine-gun fire] ...and pushes Kim's army north.
Kim's shattered forces retreat across the 38th parallel into North Korea.
The UN forces under American leadership came very close to wiping out Kim's regime.
(narrator) Kim's decision to make war on the Korean peninsula has pushed his forces to the brink of disaster.
(narrator) October 1, 1950.
Kim Il Sung's army is trapped in a small corner of North Korea by U.S. led UN forces.
Desperate for help, Kim convinces China's leader, Chairman Mao, to support his communist cause.
[extremely loud explosions] (narrator) Three weeks later.
[extremely loud machine-gun fire] Mao sends more than 250,000 troops across the Yalu River into North Korea... ...and drive the U.S. back toward the 38th parallel.
Not only does it save Kim's forces from annihilation, it resurrects his dream of reunifying Korea.
But the U.S. strikes back with a brutal new tactic.
(Bruce Cumings) The U.S. began just basically bombing everything... ...targeting schools, hospitals-- it was just a brutal, scorched-earth air campaign.
(Michael Madden) Pyongyang was leveled.
Hamhung, level to the ground.
Wonsan, level to the ground.
Tens of thousands of people died overnight.
And this is devastating.
(Charles K. Armstrong) More tonnage of bombs was dropped on North Korea, than in all of the Pacific War between the U.S. and Japan during World War II.
(narrator) The U.S. bombing exacts a heavy toll on North Korean civilians.
20% of the nation, nearly 2 million people, lose their lives.
It was the most unrestrained U.S. Air Force bombing campaign in the 20th century.
It's a disaster for the country... and for Kim.
(Bruce Cumings) He was in a very deep pickle, because he's the one who invaded the South with a lot of promises, and it brought a holocaust upon his country.
(narrator) July, 1953.
Almost 3 years after it began, and in the wake of the U.S. bombing, the war ends in a cease-fire.
Its exhausted combatants end up where they began, straddling the 38th parallel.
It's an abject failure for Kim.
His dream of unifying the country has been squashed.
North Korea has been bombed into submission with a 5th of its population dead.
And there were many around him who criticized him for that.
He was in a very weak positron at that point because of his reckless action.
(narrator) But Kim has no intention of ceding his leadership.
He begins to take a series of steps that will insure his hold on the country for years to come.
One of the first is a classic move from the dictator's playbook.
For any dictatorship, they have to use force because they need to project this image of power, this image of control.
This image that if anyone tries to threaten the regime, they will be dealt with.
(narrator) Kim immediately shifts the blame for the War from himself to his rivals, publicly denouncing 12 senior communists who had criticized his handling of it.
(Charles K. Armstrong) Kim's rivals were accused of collaborating with the Americans to sell out North Korea.
And they simply admitted to the charges, and then some went into exile, others were executed.
(Jean H. Lee) Kim Il Sung used purges, executions, to send a message to the elites and to the people, that if they oppose him, that they won't survive.
(narrator) Like Stalin before him, Kim takes out suspected opponents-- 2500 in just 4 years.
(Bruce Cumings) He just cashiered his enemies.
What we can learn about Kim from that particular period is that he's a vicious, ruthless leader who brooks no opposition.
(narrator) Although his most dangerous political enemies are dealt with, Kim must still convince the masses he's not to blame for their suffering during the War.
He relies on a tactic that will become a trademark of his regime.
(Natasha Ezrow) Propaganda is the spread of information that benefits the regime.
Dictatorships need propaganda to be able to control people's thoughts.
They want to ensure that the masses are loyal to the regime.
(narrator) Kim uses a relentless stream of propaganda to create an alternate reality where the U.S. is an imminent threat to the safety of his people.
That bombing of North Korea has been a memory kept alive to demonstrate how savage the Americans are.
[speaking Korean] (narrator) It's a reinvention of history-- one that will be repeated again and again until millions of Koreans believe it.
[Kim Kil Sun speaks Korean] (narrator) Kim's propaganda campaign continually reminds the people that he's the father of the nation.
One hundred million books are published to celebrate his greatness.
But in order to fully seed his cult of personality, Kim needs to go out among the people.
He travels across the country to spread his message in person.
(Charles K. Armstrong) Kim really was a powerful personality, and someone who was able to connect with the ordinary person.
(Bruce Cumings) I compare him to Muhammad Ali in the sense that he would wade into a crowd as if everybody loved him and press the flesh.
It was a) part of his megalomania, b) part of demonstrating to the Korean people that he was a hands-on leader.
He just bathed in the adulation of his own people and seemed to think it was entirely deserved.
(narrator) By the late 1950s, Kim's cult of personality is flourishing.
But his public confidence contrasts with a growing paranoia behind closed doors.
(Fathali Moghaddam) Paranoia is a very dominant trait in dictators, it's a tendency that leads to projection of their own insecurities and suspicions.
And their motivation becomes one of controlling every aspect of society.
(narrator) In his drive for control, Kim attempts to completely insulate the country from outside influences.
He locks down all of its media and information sources.
(Charles K. Armstrong) Both information internally and also information going in and out of the country.
to keep the people aware of only the kinds of information that the regime wants them to know.
(Natasha Ezrow) They are actually forced to listen to the radio, which is only one channel all day long.
They can turn it down, but they can not change it.
So all day long they are hearing how great Kim Il Sung is.
(narrator) Kim's obsession with his peoples' loyalty intensifies.
He keeps them in line with a mandatory weekly program he calls, "Self-Criticism Sessions."
[Kim Kil Sun speaks Korean] (Natasha Ezrow) Everybody was spying on one another.
And everybody knew that they couldn't let any sign of disloyalty be visible to, to anyone.
(narrator) By the early 1960s, after nearly 2 decades in power, Kim's grip on the nation has tightened, but he still sees conspiracies against him everywhere.
To quash dissent, the regime makes fear and insecurity a part of daily life.
(Jean H. Lee) A dictatorship needs to have a culture of fear in order to enforce a sense of loyalty to the leader.
Fear of punishment is always going to be a part of a regime like this.
[speaking Korean] [loud cheering] (narrator) By the mid 1960s, Kim Il Sung has created a culture of fear that envelops 12 million North Koreans.
His parades demonstrate his power over the people.
But it's not enough.
Kim enforces their loyalty through the secret police, nearly 50,000 strong, who monitor their daily lives.
The secret police is important to the dictatorship because they need to know who the opponents are of the regime.
They need to get access to really good information.
(narrator) To identify threats, the secret police helps carry out a highly invasive plan.
Around the country agents gather personal information on every individual.
The data is used to reinforce a rigid caste system, which ranks everyone into 3 categories based on loyalty.
Within the 3 categories, there are somewhere between 75 and 95 subdivisions of the population.
This determines what kind of work you're going to do, what kind of education you're going to have, where you're going to live.
(Charles K. Armstrong) Only the most politically reliable people are allowed to live in the capital of Pyongyang.
And the most unreliable people are out in the countryside.
(narrator) The caste system weeds out enemies of the state.
The worst of the perceived offenders are sentenced to gulags.
[speaking Korean] One of the harsh realities of North Korean detention facilities is, they will be subjected to torture.
Sexual abuse, forced medical procedures.
They keep the prisoners at a nutritional minimum so they don't die because they want to prolong the suffering.
[speaking Korean[ (narrator) During the 1960s, Kim's regime executes more than 6000 political enemies.
As the end of the decade nears, a culture of fear has permeated all corners of the country.
The regime now controls even the most basic aspects of daily life.
[Kim Kil Sun speaking Korean] (narrator) The government even dictates how much each person eats, rationing consumption through its food distribution policy.
[speaking Korean] [loud cheering] (narrator) Kim's indoctrination of his people reaches its pinnacle in mass rallies where they honor him as their Supreme Leader.
(Natasha Ezrow) The extent of the cult of personality is something like we've never seen before.
It borders on fanaticism, it's complete socialization of everybody.
Every single person in this regime is indoctrinated.
(narrator) Indoctrination and fear help explain why ordinary Koreans support the regime.
But there are other forces at work, including history.
For the past 600 years North Koreans have never known real political freedom.
They were either ruled by absolute Korean monarchs or the Japanese Emperor.
[speaking Korean] (narrator) Kim also exploits an intrinsic value of traditional Korean society.
(Jean H. Lee) He tapped into a very Korean trait, which is conformism-- understanding where your place in society is and trying not to stray outside that place that's dictated for you.
So Koreans don't want to go outside the group, they want to do what the group is doing.
(narrator) By the early 1970s, Kim's cult of personality in North Korea is unshakeable.
In 25 years he's gone from Soviet puppet to unassailable leader.
But Kim's still haunted by one question-- how can he ensure his regime continues after his death?
(Charles K. Armstrong) Kim knows he's not going to live forever.
He saw what happened in the Soviet Union after Stalin died, confusion in the political leadership, took the country in what Kim thought was the wrong direction.
And he didn't want to have that happen in North Korea.
(narrator) He settles on a rare and unconventional plan for a communist dictator approaching the end of his rule.
(Charles K. Armstrong) He looked to his family.
After all, who do you trust more than the people within your own immediate family?
(narrator) Kim believes succession is the only way to guarantee his regime's survival when he's gone, even though it's never been attempted in the communist world before.
He turns to his eldest son, 33-year-old Kim Jong Il, who's been serving as head of the regime's Propaganda and Agitation Department.
Kim Il Sung really grooms his son to be successor.
He places him in increasingly important positions within the party structure.
(Michael Madden) One of the key projects that Kim Jong Il develops is venerating his father.
Turning his father into the God figure.
(narrator) It's all part of Kim Il Sung's succession plan.
To implement it, he deifies himself and his son, and in the process, raises his cult of personality to an entirely new level.
(Natasha Ezrow) The Kim regime was able to create a complete religion and myth around the leadership, that they were divine.
And the myth started from the way that they portrayed Kim's childhood.
That he was this idyllic character, and as he grew up, that he single-handedly defeated the Japanese.
(narrator) Kim's son, Kim Jong Il, is venerated as well.
He was born in a Siberian village during World War II, but state propaganda says the birth occurred on a mystical mountain, Mount Paektu.
(Jean H. Lee) All Koreans think of that place as the birth of the Korean people.
And so to say that you were descended from Mount Paektu means that you've got like a godlike right to rule.
(narrator) During the 1970s, along with countless pieces of art and films glorifying Kim and his family, 34,000 monuments are erected in their names.
They are now considered gods in North Korea.
Kim is satisfied; his succession is in place.
And he can kind of step back.
From that point onward Kim Jong Il is really doing a lot of the day-to-day governing of the country.
(narrator) In the 1980s, with his son basically running the government, Kim Il Sung attends to his own needs.
By some estimates, Kim caused more than 200,000 deaths in his gulags, but he's obsessed with prolonging his own life to 120.
To do it, Kim has set up the Longevity Research Institute.
Its only mission is to keep him alive.
They used to gather men that were of the same height and weight and age as Kim Il Sung, try medical treatments on them.
15 North Koreans were fitted with pacemakers to make sure the pacemakers were gonna work when they went to install the pacemaker on Kim Il Sung.
(narrator) Kim orders his doctors to give him dozens of blood transfusions from healthy young men.
He spends hours around young children, hoping to absorb some of their energy.
Handlers polish his rice grains so he doesn't get a bad one.
But not even Kim can cheat death.
On July 8, 1994, Kim Il Sung dies of a heart attack at 82.
(Jean H. Lee) Some people said I felt sadder at his death then I did my own father's death.
So it shows you how deeply entrenched that sense of loyalty was to Kim Il Sung.
(narrator) But there are other reasons for the people's tears.
(Natasha Ezrow) They needed to show that they were in genuine mourning.
And if they didn't prove to the regime that they were in mourning enough, they could be arrested, they could be tortured, they could be killed.
(narrator) Around the world, political experts watch and wait, suspecting Kim's regime will crumble without him.
It teeters... but survives.
The strength of the dictatorship Kim forged passes another test in 2011 when it survives the death of Kim Jong Il.
Once again, power is successfully transferred from father to son.
[loud cheering & chanting] Today, under Kim Jong Un, the regime has fortified itself through the emulation of its founder.
[loud cheering & chanting] (Bruce Cumings) Kim Jong Un's a clone of Kim Il Sung.
His haircut is a classic late 1940's Kim Il Sung, they've fattened him up so that he, he looks big, he looks like his grandfather.
(narrator) Kim Il Sung's cult of personality has never gone away.
His presence is everywhere.
There are songs, there are anthems, there are books, there are stories, there are statues, there are posters everywhere-- you cannot escape it.
(narrator) In the end, Kim Il Sung did something no other communist dictator of the 20th Century had pulled off-- he created a dynasty.
(Jean H. Lee) By passing on leadership of his country to his son, he engineered this hereditary succession.
We had never seen anything like that in the communist world.
(narrator) Ironically, after struggling to free his people from the abuses of Japanese rule, Kim Il Sung created a system that brought more suffering to his people.
[speaking Korean] (narrator) Today North Korea is a nuclear state.
Despite ongoing talks, it has not yet given up its weapons.
(Jean H. Lee) The ramifications are far more terrifying than they were under Kim Il Sung.
North Korea now has the capability to obliterate the region, frankly, with these nuclear weapons.
(narrator) Kim Il Sung's dynasty has outlasted 12 U.S. presidents and entered its 8th decade.
But the question remains-- how long will his creation-- the world's most controlled and isolated society... last?
(Charles K. Armstrong) I think this regime can last for quite some time to come.
We can't dismiss the possibility that they could fall, but I don't think we should ever underestimate how resilient and long-lasting this regime has been and can be in the future.
(narrator) Next time on "The Dictator's Playbook"... (Natasha Ezrow) Saddam Hussein was one of the most murderous leaders in history.
(Joseph Sassoon) He used violence from an early age.
He is the street fighter.
So he did not understand the world, The war is over.
[cheers & applause] (Joseph Sassoon) Saddam misunderstands the West time and again.
(John Nixon) The George W. Bush administration felt Saddam was unfinished business.
Ladies and gentlemen, we got him!
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