North Korea: The Domain of the Juche Doctrine

By Kopecky, Pavel | The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs, Autumn 2009 | Go to article overview

North Korea: The Domain of the Juche Doctrine


Kopecky, Pavel, The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs


Within our slightly confused planetary community, it would be impossible to find a more bizarre regime than the one in North Korea without the aid of candlelight. The regime, which is formally known as the Democratic People's Republic, is to most observers a living museum, a zombie. And despite being one of two Koreas, the DPRK is marked by an almost hereditary and despotic regime which seemingly draws from socialist doctrine.

One of the Divided states

The Korean peninsula is, as we know, split into North and South Korea because of a 60-year grudge. The split between the two states did not--contrary to the claims at the end of the famous American series M*A*S*H*--conclude in a peace agreement. The de jure cease-fire came about in 1953 when military operations ceased in connection with the death of Dzhugashvili. This absurd state of "not war, not peace" has endured since the Panmunjom armistice agreements and has provided fertile ground to escalate potential security threats.

Korea is the victim of its own modern history. Following Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910, the peninsula remained under Tokyo's control until Japan's unconditional surrender in August 1945. Within just three weeks, the United States and the Soviet Union began respective military occupations in the South and North as they vied for security and power in the region.

After two years under formal occupation and provisional governments, the UN called for free and fair elections and troop withdrawal. In 1948 Korea was thus officially divided into pro-American and pro-Soviet halves, the former governed by Seoul and the latter by Pyongyang. The communist North came under the leadership of Kim Il-sung who led the country from 1945 to the early nineties. Having built a thriving cult of personality, Kim Il-sung's death in 1994 was marked by televised hysteria and mourning as he "became one of the gods."

The Sun Shines Brightly on Asia

Kim Il-sung's grasp on power before his death was incredible. He boasted glorifying titles such as "the great leader of the world revolution," "the purple sun brightly shining on Asia, Africa and Latin America," and "the great Marxist-Leninist." Among other aspects of his cult of personality, the days of his birth and death have been proclaimed national holidays.

During his reign, the DPRK began to develop nuclear weapons, which have since become the favorite tool of his son and successor, Kim Jong-Il, to blackmail the international community. …

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