China and North Korea have their differences as nations, of course.
Yet, the two communist countries bear striking similarities to one another during their most formative years, including their relationship with the now debunked Soviet Union, nationalistic pride stemming from Japanese occupation, and, most importantly, their heads of government. The leadership of a state has a definite correlation to the policies put into place and the ideologies of the government.
Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party of China, and Kim Il Sung, the supreme leader of North Korea, are two similar political figures. Even considering their early lives, before they became infamous rulers, we can take note of the parallels.
For example, Mao was born to a moderately well-off family of farmers. Though they lived in a rural area, he had the privilege of attending school and receiving a formal education. Kim also lived in a small village and was born to a family of relatively affluent farmers. Kim was fortunate enough to also obtain a formal education. There, like Mao, he rejected the traditions and teachings of older generations, leaning toward Communist ideologies.
As the two aged and developed their beliefs, they became increasingly involved in political activity.
Kim Il Sung joined a small organization of Marxists with less than 19 other men, resembling Mao’s involvement in a group of Chinese communists consisting of only 13 men.
Both leaders became active guerilla fighters, which resulted in their rises to power. Mao Zedong was extremely effective in his guerrilla-like tactics, allowing him to fend and fight off the Japanese. The North Korean ruler was, likewise, a part of guerrilla movements to fight Japanese invasion and occupation in Manchuria.
Seen as fierce, loyal fighters for their countries (and communism), Mao and Kim were chosen by the Soviet Union to be at the helm of leadership. This decision was echoed in the support from the general population. They ruled with heavy nationalistic sentiments and a fully-loaded state propaganda machine.
The cult of personality surrounding both Mao Zedong, of the People’s Republic of China, and Kim Il Sung of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had a tremendous amount of influence on the shaping of their respective countries that continue to echo generations later.
Mao’s resulted in fanatic followers that terrorized and slaughtered thousands in his name. Additionally, the creation of a book of his quotes was released to the population, emblematic of propaganda. Kim’s resulted in heavy brainwashing of the population; he took on the identity of a god. His birthday is referred to as the day of the sun.
Presently, with tensions between the capitalist and imperialist United States and North Korea rising, China has been forced to be the moderator between the two nations. The People's Republic of China now faces a difficult decision—maintain an ideological ally in the growing capitalist East or lose millions in trade.