The North Korean enigma

For those who might want to understand a little more about what drives that almost incomprehensible hereditary dictatorship in Asia, you might want to have a look at what the government describes as its guiding ideology, called ‘Juche’. What does this mean? According to the official website of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), it’s this:

‘The Juche idea is based on the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything. It is the man-centred world outlook and also a political philosophy to materialize the independence of the popular masses, namely, a philosophy which elucidates the theoretical basis of politics that leads the development of society along the right path.’

If you are like me, you might struggle a little to discern any meaning in that at all (though you might notice the sexist language). In practice it probably means that ‘Juche’ is whatever the ruling family says it is.

The difficulty with North Korea is that it appears to be governed solely by a determination of self-preservation. Trying to understand it beyond that is probably not possible. And that makes it very dangerous.

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3 Comments on “The North Korean enigma”

  1. V.H Says:

    Sexism in the east isn’t of the same order. The person, male or female is subsumed to the good of the family or clan. Since the base concepts were established it wasn’t much of a stretch to convert it into something State wide.
    Further, that Korea was a province of China and then Japan where they simply lopped off the upper level but with neither had the clan structure been destroyed so once independence was formed post WW2 older methods of control and thought patterns re-asserted themselves. In a way a bit like Yugoslavia reverted to Balkan at light speed after ’90.

  2. Anna Notaro Says:

    This Stanford paper ‘clarifies’ matters from a political-philosophy perspective

    Click to access korea1.pdf

    however the comparison of Juche with religion (and Christianity in particular) is interesting also

    not the first time in history that politics and religion coalesce in one person and/or dynasty

    The Official Site includes, at the bottom, an intriguing list of Korean Friendship Associations

  3. V.H Says:

    When we get all high horsey about this place, we should remember Japan had a leader considered Divine. Not just an Emperor but a full blooded God. China had the same until the 20th century and had a leader viewed not much lesser for a goodly chunk of the middle years and he was supposed to be atheist.

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