During the 1956 August Faction Incident , Kim Il-sung successfully resisted efforts by the Soviet Union and China to depose him in favor of Soviet Koreans or the pro-Chinese Yan'an faction .   The last Chinese troops withdrew from the country in October 1958, which is the consensus as the latest date when North Korea became effectively independent. Some scholars believe that the 1956 August incident demonstrated independence.    North Korea remained closely aligned with China and the Soviet Union, and the Sino-Soviet split allowed Kim to play the powers off each other.  North Korea sought to become a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement , and emphasized the ideology of Juche to distinguish it from both the Soviet Union and China.