Let us prepare well for the great war of reunification!
Artist: Cho Ho-jin and Lim We-soo
Publisher: Korean Workers Party Press
Condition: Excellent, creasing to margins
Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910 and subjected to imperial rule until the end of World War II in 1945. The country was split along a dividing line known as the 38th Parallel - originally as a temporary arrangement to facilitate the surrender of the Japanese. With the North under Soviet administration and the South controlled by the Americans, separate governments were formed in each zone and hostility between the two continued to rise. The division put an end to a thousand years of unity and gave birth to the pursuit of reunification.
Since its founding in 1946, North Korea has given absolute priority to the reunification of the country as an independent, socialist and unified state, governed by the Korean Workers Party. It declared in its constitution that the capital of the unified Korea would be Seoul - implying that there would be no room for the regime of the Republic of Korea in the South. Pyongyang had considered the governance of the South to be weak and corrupt from the outset and forecast its rapid demise, however once it became clear that this would not happen the North began to plan for a military solution to its reunification problem. With the likely belief that its rival in the South posed a threat to its own security and existence, North Korea launched an unexpected attack on South Korea in June 1950 and triggered the Korean War, expecting to reunite the country in less than a month. It rapidly took control of the majority of the peninsula until a United Nations force led by the United States intervened - a move that shocked the regime in the North and turned the tables until the Chinese entered the conflict in October of the same year as the fighting neared its border.
In the decade after the signing of the armistice in 1953, and given the commitment provided by the United States to defend South Korea's interests, the North focused on rebuilding its own destroyed economy and reconstructing the country. Production levels increased and eventually exceeded pre-war figures and aid was forthcoming from the USSR, China, and socialist Europe. In the early 1960s Kim Il-sung determined to adopt a strategy of focusing on developing the country's military strength to be better prepared in the future to be able to exploit any weakness in the South in the pursuit of reunification. Under this policy the Korean People's Army grew in number from an estimated 300,000 in 1960 to close to one million by the late 1970s, accompanied by a steady increase in defence spending. America's involvement in the Vietnam War appeared to reduce its willingness to focus on defending Seoul, and the North likely hoped a breakdown in relations between the US and Republic of Korea would follow.
The poster portrays a soldier of the Korean People's Army fixing a bayonet to his rifle in preparation for the coming conflict - suggesting that fighting could be desperate and at close quarters but the end of unifying the country would justify the means. A sideways movement is apparent in many North Korean posters, with the aim of encouraging the participation of the audience to join in with whatever advance is proposed; in this image the dynamic thrust of the figure from left to right spurs the viewer onward into action to support the war preparations. In the background an agricultural worker gathers crops and a steelworker toils in the factory - underscoring that the country's economic production is performed in the name of, and is vital to the aim of reunification.