Who was Kang Pan-sok? In sort Kang Pan-sok was the mother of President Kim Il-Sung, and as such holds a special status in North Korea.
As mother of Kim Il Sung she was also the grand-mother of General Kim Jong-Il, and great-grandmother of current leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Chairman Kim Jong-Un.
Kang Pang-sok was born in Pyongyang on April 21st 1892 and was married to the father of President Kim Il-Sung, and fellow revolutionary Kim Hyong-Jik. Both were renowned independence fighters, and communist politicians.
As well as Kim Il-Sung she had two other children, Kim Chol-ju and Kim Yong-ju. The later of whom is still alive and holds the title of Honorary Vice-President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. He is almost 100 years old.
She died on July 31st 1932 during the Anti-Japanese struggle, and is remembered as revolutionary hero.
In North Korea, Kang Pan-sŏk is referred to as the “Mother of Korea” or “Great Mother of Korea”. Both titles she shares with Kim Jong-il’s mother Kim Jong-suk, although as the Mother of President Kim Il-Sung she is technically more important.
The first mention of Mother Kang Pan-sok came in a 1967 when the Rodong Sinmun praised her as the “mother of all”. In that same year, the Democratic Women’s League initiated a campaign called “Learning from Madame Kang Pan-sŏk”. There is also a song by the name of “Mother of Korea” in her honor.
Whilst there is no public holiday commemorating her, like the Day of the Sun commemorates President Kim-Il Sung, April 21st is a memorial day for her in North Korea, when a wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Chilgol Revolutionary Site in Pyongyang.
Interestingly considering that North Korea is largely an atheist state, the mother of President Kim Il-Sung was a Presbyterian, and the (protestant) Chilgol Church in Pyongyang is dedicated to her memory.
Pan-sok means “rock” in Korean and it is said to have been inspired by St-Peter.