This week, it’s time to join the resistance. We’ll trace the birth of the Korean resistance from protests in 1919 to its bifurcation into two rival movements. The first, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, will be based in Shanghai and dominated by the charismatic American-educated Syngman Rhee (Yi Seung-man). The second will be an armed anti-Japanese insurrection in Manchuria led by a man whose life is more myth than fact: Kim Il-sung.

Listen to the episode here.


Cummings, Bruce. Korea’s Place in the Sun.

Cummings, Bruce. North Korea: Another Country.

Allan, Richard C. Korea’s Syngman Rhee: An Unauthorized Portrait.



The March 1st Demonstrations in full swing.


The demonstrations in Korea were widely covered, but willpower to intervene in what was perceived as an internal, Japanese issue was nonexistent in the West.


The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea’s members pose for a photo in Shanghai in the late 1920s.


Kim Gu, one of the leading lights of the PGROK. His notoriety grew from his assassination of a Japanese national in 1898 in revenge for the killing of Queen Min.


Today, the building where the PGROK operated is a museum run by the Shanghai city government. This is the office of Kim Gu.


Syngman Rhee (Yi Seungman) as a young undergrad in the US.


Syngman Rhee as president of the Republic of Korea.


Kim Il-sung as a young boy. Very little is known of the life of Kim Il-sung for sure, as so much of what’s out there is derived from North Korean propaganda.


Kim Il-sung as a grown man.


Kim Il-sung and his wife in exile in Russia during WWII. With them is their first son, Kim Jong-il.