Kim Tu-bong

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Kim Tu-bong
Chosŏn'gŭl 김두봉
Revised Romanization Gim Dubong
McCune–Reischauer Kim Tubong
Pen name
Chosŏn'gŭl 백연
Revised Romanization Baekyeon
McCune–Reischauer Paegyŏn

Kim Tu-bong (February 2, 1889 - 1958 or later) was known in Korean history as a linguist, scholar, and politician. His most famous work was under Ju Sigyeong; later, after participating in the March 1st Movement, he with other Korean leaders of the time established a provisional government-in-exile in China, and because of his communist beliefs he played an important role in the early North Korean communist regime. He and other members of the Yan'an faction formed the New People's Party when they returned from exile. After the New People's Party merged into the Workers Party of North Korea (WPNK) in 1946 at the 1st WPNK Congress, he became WPNK Chairman. He was the first head of state (Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly) of North Korea from 1948 to 1957. He is most remembered in South Korea for his efforts in establishing the Korean linguistic field and especially that of Hangul. Much of his work both political and linguistically was done while living in China with the exiled government of Korea. He is also known by his pen name Baekyeon. He was purged by Kim Il-sung in 1957.

Early childhood and education[edit]

Born on February 2, 1889 in South Korea's South Gyounghee Provenance, near modern-day Pusan, he spent his early years being homeschooled during the time of imperial rule. He would move to Seoul at the age of 20 (1908) to attend both Geho school and Baechae school and in that same year graduate from Bogo high school. While he was in Seoul he would join the Korea Youth organization in 1913 and the following year (1914) leave Baechae School. He was also an editor for the So nyoun magazine.

Early linguistic work[edit]

After graduating from 1908 Bosungkobo Kim Tu-bong worked closely with a Linguistic professor from Bosungkobo named Ju Sigyeong who was at that time beginning his work in the study of Hangul for which his name would later be known for as he would dedicate his life to bring it about (the Korean script made by King Sae Jeong during the 15th century). He also worked as a teacher. In 1916 spent a majority of his time working on compiling MalMooe, the first Korean dictionary.

Shanghai and the exiled Korean Government[edit]

After the March 1st Movement (March 1, 1919) he and other members of the independence club fled in to China and in April 1919 set up a provisional government in Shanghai. During which he was first exposed to Communism and eventually accepted it in 1920 after first supporting the Democratic Party. In 1924 he was entrusted with the department of children education and schooling where he served as the president and also taught both Korean and Korean History. After the Japanese invaded China he and other members of the Korean government in Shanghai fled to Yanan and there Kim would become the head of the independence club and became a very important figure in combining the conflicting views of both communist and democratic ideas.

Return home and the new government[edit]

The December following World War II and the Japanese's surrender (August 15, 1945) Kim Du-tong and other members returned to the then-divided Korea. Like many other Communist-minded people of the time, Kim Du-tong and other Communist leaders took residence in what is now North Korea under the Soviet occupation. In February 1946 Kim Du-tong became the chairman of the new People's Party. Later that year in August it merged to form the Workers' Party. He would become the chairman in 1948; Kim designed the new flag that is still used in North Korea today in an effort to throw off what he saw as feudal rule.

Disappearance and death[edit]

After the Korean War Kim Tu-bong had served his usefulness in the government and whether imagined or real many scholars believe at this point he now became a threat to Kim Il-sung's dictatorship. Rumors began that it had to do with a scandal as he had married a much younger woman later in life. Whatever the reason, he disappeared around 1958 and, like many others of Kim Il-sung's political opponents, he disappeared with no records to indicate whether he had been sentenced to hard labor or exile, but his death was finally announced in 1960.

See also[edit]


  • Dae-Sook Suh. Kim Il Sung: The North Korean Leader. Columbia University Press, 1988. pg. 351

n.d. Kim Dubong (김두봉). Naver encolopidia. November 20, 2013.

External links[edit]