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North Korea marked the birthday Wednesday of its founder, Kim Il Sung, worshiped at home as a virtual deity for laying the foundation for a five-decade-old dictatorship capable of threatening superpowers such as the U.S.

For Kim Young-hwan, a one-time pro-unification activist from South Korea who once revered the Great Leader, Kim became a tyrant who betrayed the country’s socialist dream. A fugitive when he boarded a North Korea submarine in 1991 for Pyongyang, Kim found a power-obsessed despot, rather than the highly intelligent revolutionary he expected.

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