Birth and Early Childhood:
Kim il-Sung was born in April 15, 1912 as Kim Song-Ju in Mangyondae, somewhere near Pyongyang. His parents had fled into Manchuria in order to flee Japanese rule. Early in his youth, Kim became fluent in Chinese and joined a communist youth organization within his school. Soon after, he would clash with this authorities and eventually land in jail in 1929.
Kim's family is said to have originated from Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. His great grandfather, Kim Ung Woo, settled in Mangyong-dae in 1860.
His family was not very poor, but was always a step away from poverty. Kim said that he was raised in a Presbyterian family, that his maternal grandfather was a Protestant minister, that his father had gone to a missionary school and was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and that his parents were very active in the religious community. According to the official version, Kim’s family participated in anti-Japanese activities and in 1920 they fled to Manchuria. Like most Korean families, they resented the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, which began on 29 August 1910.
Another view seems to be that his family settled in Manchuria like many Koreans at the time to escape famine. Nonetheless, Kim's parents, especially Kim's mother (Kang Ban Suk) played a role in some of the activist anti-Japanese struggle that was sweeping the peninsula. But, their exact involvement - whether their cause was missionary, nationalist, or both - is unclear. Still, Japanese repression of any and all opposition was brutal, resulting in the arrest and detention of more than 52,000 Korean citizens in 1912 alone. The repression forced many Korean families to flee Korea and settle in Manchuria.
As stated earlier, Kim il-Sung came under the influence of Communism from an early age. He studied the communist system of the Soviet Union in Russia. After his jail time, he would lead Communist guerrilla efforts against the Japanese from the 30s until the end of World War II. During his guerilla years, he gained a reputation for his tactics in coordinating the attacks. Kim would eventually become the leader of all the Korean Communist guerrilla groups.