North Korea: A Strange Socialist Fortress

By Hy-Sang Lee | Go to book overview

4
1960s: Militarism, Survivalism,
and Filialism

OVERVIEW

At the beginning of the 1960s, there still was a possibility—remote as it might have been—for the North Korean economy to grow in a more balanced way. There was an apparent improvement in food supply even in the face of farm collectivization. The aggrandizing heavy industry could still be deployed to serve the consumer as well as the military. Reproducing and expanding itself had been the primary task of heavy industry until then. While it hardly served the consumer, neither was it mainly devoted to the production of ordnance yet. The share of national defense in the government budget, as publicly revealed, remained relatively small and declined from 5.9 percent in 1956 to 4.8 percent in 1958, and to 3.1 percent in 1960.1 Furthermore, the multi-year economic plan for the 1960s, the Seven-Year Plan that succeeded the Five-Year Plan, exhibited a pro-consumer vision, finally.

However, the 1960s turned out to be a particularly regressive decade in the history of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)— the least informative and characterized by fanatic militarism. The decade was dedicated to turning the entire country into a permanent armed camp, bringing on a further retreat in living standards. The Juche ideology grew strident, and a young Kim Jong II with a fierce filial piety to his totalitarian father was thrust upon the political scene. A stagnating agriculture was provided with a system modification called sub-team management, a minor and only revision introduced in the collectivized system to this day. Meanwhile, Kim II Sung expounded the feasibility of the socialist theory of ever expanding the military and the economy to

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