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The Order of Kim Il-sung (Korean김일성훈장; MRKimilsŏng hunchang) is the highest order of North Korea, along with the Order of Kim Jong-il, and only second to one honorary title, the Hero of Labour.

Order of Kim Il-sung
Order of the Kim Il Sung June 2012.jpg
2012 revision of the order
Awarded by The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
CountryNorth Korea
Awarded forOutstanding services to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and communism
Established20 March 1972 (1972-03-20)
First awardedKim Jong-Il
Total awardedMore than 600
Next (higher)Hero of Labour
EquivalentOrder of Kim Jong-il
Next (lower)Order of the National Flag
PRK Order of Kim Il Sung BAR.png
Ribbon of the Order of Kim Il-sung
Order of Kim Il-sung
Revised RomanizationGimilseong hunjang
McCune–ReischauerKimilsŏng hunchang

The order, named after the country's first leader Kim Il-sung, was instituted in 1972 during a reform of the North Korean honors system. Its history is not fully known, but the order was initially round, being changed to a five-pointed star design later, and the picture of Kim Il-sung updated in 2012.

Recipients can be individuals or organizations, who have contributed to the cause of communism. It is traditionally awarded on 15 April, the Day of the Sun, the birthday of Kim Il-sung. Relatively few are awarded, totaling at least 600, to highlight the high symbolic status of the order. Recipients include Kim Jong-il, who received it four times. He was supposed to be the recipient of the first award in 1972, but according to North Korean sources, he initially refused.



The order before it was redesigned in 2012

The North Korean system of orders and medals saw periods of expansion and stagnation through the 1950s and 1960s, but in the early 1970s, major additions were made. Of these, the most important one was the addition of the Order of Kim Il-sung to the list of titles.[1] The order was instituted on 20 March 1972[2] on the occasion of the 60th birthday of Kim Il-sung.[3] At about the same time, North Korea also started awarding watches with Kim Il-sung's autograph on them.[1] According to North Korean sources, Kim Jong-il was to be the first recipient of the order, but he declined it and received the honor only in 1979.[3]

In 2012, all orders bearing the picture of Kim Il-sung, including the Order of Kim Il-sung, were redesigned with a newer picture of Kim. At some point before that, the order had become a five-pointed star, being formerly round. It is possible that all old versions were recalled and changed to the new one.[1]


The order is traditionally awarded annually on 15 April, the birthday of Kim Il-sung.[4] It is awarded for "outstanding services to the Republic of the Korean nation and communism".[5]

Out of all North Korean orders, it is awarded the most sparingly, reflecting its high symbolic status. At least 600 have been awarded.[1]


The order is the highest of the order of North Korea, along with the Order of Kim Jong-il,[6] although out of titles the Hero of Labour is considered higher.[1] The Order of the National Flag is one rank lower.[4]

There are related prizes called the Kim Il-sung Prize, as well as prizes for youth and children.[1]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Weiser, Martin (8 January 2016). "Chests Full of Brass: A DPRK Political History in Orders, Medals, Prizes, and Titles". Sino-NK. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  2. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 960.
  3. ^ a b Armstrong, Chalres (25 April 2012). "Hereditary Succession in North Korea: Lessons of the Past". 38 North. U.S.-Korea Institute (SAIS). Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b Yonhap News Agency (27 December 2002). North Korea Handbook. Seoul: M.E. Sharpe. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-7656-3523-5.
  5. ^ "Order of Kim Il Sung". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Order of Kim Jong Il Instituted". Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  7. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 835.
  8. ^ "General Secretary Kim Jong Il's Chronology Part I (1942–1979)". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  9. ^ "General Secretary Kim Jong Il's Chronology Part II (1980–1990)". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  10. ^ "General Secretary Kim Jong Il's Chronology Part III (1990–1997)". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  11. ^ "Order of Kim Il Sung Awarded to Kim Jong Il". KCNA. 9 April 2012. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014.
  12. ^ a b North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 756.
  13. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 818.
  14. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 833.
  15. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, pp. 831–832.
  16. ^ "O Kuk Ryol" (PDF). Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  17. ^ "Choe Yong-rim" (PDF). Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  18. ^ Hoare 2012, p. 190.
  19. ^ "Jon Pyong Ho" (PDF). Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  20. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 802.
  21. ^ Hoare 2012, p. 199.
  22. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 854.
  23. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 869.
  24. ^ Hoare 2012, p. 202.
  25. ^ Hoare 2012, p. 302.
  26. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 886.
  27. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 829.
  28. ^ Hoare 2012, p. 183.
  29. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 815.
  30. ^ North Korea Handbook 2002, p. 768.
  31. ^ "Builders in Construction of Power Stations Commended". Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  32. ^ "Chairman Han Duk Su of CHONGRYUN Passes Away". Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  33. ^ "Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Sends Wreath to Bier of Jin Pong Jun". DPRK Today. KCNA. 25 February 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  34. ^ "Kim Rak Hui, Initiator of Plowwoman Movement". KCNA. 20 February 2013. Archived from the original on 8 September 2017.
  35. ^ Len, Samuel (28 October 2003). "Pyongyang official dies of crash injuries". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  36. ^ "Veteran Film Director Om Kil Son". Naenara. 20 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  37. ^ Kim Thae-hyon (January 2015). "To Promote People's Health". Democratic People's Republic of Korea. No. 709. p. 28. ISSN 1727-9208.
  38. ^ "Ri Jong Ok passes away". Wayback Machine. KCNA. 11 October 2012. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  39. ^ Kim Son-gyong (May 2015). "Sculptor Family". Democratic People's Republic of Korea. No. 713. pp. 26–27. ISSN 1727-9208.
  40. ^ "Birthday Spread to Ryu Mi Yong". Naenara. KCNA. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  41. ^ "Yon Hyong Muk Dies". KCNA. 23 October 2005. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014.
  42. ^ "Университет имени Ким Ир Сена". (in Russian). Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  43. ^ "Pyongyang University of Music and Dance". Naenara. Archived from the original on 16 July 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  44. ^ "Anniversary of Kigwancha Sports Team Marked in DPRK". Rodong Sinmun. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2018.

Works citedEdit