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ABSTRACT: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 1999 In north Korea, history does not belong to the past, but governs the present. The study of the guerrilla struggle in Manchuria---the historical origins of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea---can provide us with significant clues to understanding modern north Korean politics. This dissertation attempts to offer an alternative explanation to the conventional understanding of north Korea's extraordinary personality cult and extreme emphasis on the nationalism by illuminating the specific circumstances of the Korean communist guerrillas in eastern Manchuria.In the early 1930s, the Eastern Manchurian Special Committee of the Chinese Communist Party purged more than 1,000 Korean communists with false charges of their association with the Minsaengdan, a pro-Japanese Korean organization. Since all victims of the purge were Korean, the Minsaengdan Incident may seem to be an ethnic persecution. However, it was a more complicated incident to be simply defined as an ethnic persecution. It was a, case of political paranoia that resulted from extensive changes in the environment of peasant life. The Korean masses in the guerrilla base areas were victimizers as well as victims of the purge.The Minsaengdan Incident is important in itself because it illuminates important aspects of the Korean communist movement in Manchuria, the nature of the communist purges, the collective madness amidst of the revolutionary process, and the conflicting relationship between communism and nationalism. However, the greatest significance of the Incident lies in its long lasting influence on north Korea and its "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung.Kim was arrested as a Minsaengdan suspect by the CCP, but was only a hair's breadth away from execution. Later, he played a decisive role in bringing an end to this horrendous, purge which almost wiped out the Korean communist movement in eastern Manchuria. In the process, he built incontestable leadership among the Korean guerrillas under the CCP. If we fail to understand Kim and his followers' collective memory of the Minsaengdan Incident, we cannot understand why Kim so fixated on the independence of the Korean people and created a family state based on a close personal bond he had established with his followers.