The Bizarre, Twisted Cult Known as the ‘Democratic’ People’s Republic of Korea
In the wake of Kim Jong Il’s recent death, the oppressed people of North Korea are faced with a rare, extraordinary opportunity to break free from the chains of communist slavery, and from the cult-like regime built on the grand delusions of a megalomaniac.
Kim Jong Il’s reign was a bizarre, hypocritical, Stalinistic empire. An estimated 20,000 political prisoners languished in re-education camps, and children starved in out-of-sight areas while the communist dictator annually imported $650,000 worth of Hennessy’s finest Cognac, and flew in chefs from Tokyo and Italy. His regime was a cardboard, papier-mâché empire that only allowed the free world an extremely limited glimpse of staged city areas of Pyongyang, the forbidden city, while the rest of the country was rumored to be in poverty and ruins.
Even the official name of the country--the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea--is a complete contradiction. There is nothing remotely democratic about the dictatorship, despite Article 1 of Chapter 1 of its 1972 Constitution (which decrees the country “an independent socialist State representing the interests of all Korean people"). Kim Jong Il's father, Kim Il-sung, built the North Korean dictatorship upon an almost cultish spiritual thesis he created called Juche, translated from Korean as “self-reliance.” The Juche Idea falsely identifies the Korean masses as the masters of the nation-state’s development, and serves as an almost religious basis of the country’s so-called Constitution.
Kim Il-sung is believed to have first coined the phrase Juche in a 1930 speech he made when he was 18 years old. In that speech he pleaded with the Korean people to resist the dogmatism of Soviet style communism, and instead urged his countrymen to adopt their own version of Marxist-Leninism. Political scientists have speculated that Juche emerged as a result of the 1956 Sino-Soviet split within communism between the Marxist U.S.S.R. and the Maoist People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.).
Eventually, the Juche Idea differed from Soviet Marxist theory, in which a skilled worker or educated professional superseded agrarian peasants. It also differed from Chinese Maoism, which held the opposite--that the peasant or most uneducated member of society was the political elite. Instead, Juche theory created (allegedly) a trisected equalitarian class between the (1) peasant, (2) worker, and the masses (known as the Samuwon).
By 1958, Kim Il-sung styled himself as the ultimate ruler of North Korea, implementing the Juche theory as a new form of government and giving North Korea its own communist identity separate from the two leftist superpowers. The new nation-state focused on three basic principles of the Juche Idea: (1) Political Independence, (2) Economic Sustenance, and (3) Self-Reliance in Defense.
In 1972, the Juche theory completely replaced any semblance of actual Marxist-Leninism in the form of a newly adopted Constitution, and in 1982, Kim Il-sung authored an official, definitive, written statement on what the Juche theory was. The statement, titled “On the Juche Idea,” also gave Kim absolute power to interpret the state ideology--and, later, he implemented the "Songun" military-first policy in 1996.
Kim Il-sung’s power to solely interpret Juche theory actually gave him unfettered discretion to interpret the North Korean Constitution as he saw fit. The 1996 Songun policy created an incentive for young people to serve in the military, since it guaranteed resource priority.
Like most cults, Kim Il-sung’s so-called "Democratic Republic" of the people and for the people was anything but self-reliant. Until its collapse in 1991, the country relied heavily on economic assistance from the U.S.S.R., and received considerable industrial aid from 1953-1976. After several years of national starvation in the mid 1990s, the P.R.C. assumed the Soviet role and began providing an average of about $400 million per year.
In 1998, the communist cult state reached its apex of hypocrisy when the 1972 Juche-based Constitution was amended to allow private property and joint ventures with capitalist countries. Kim Jong Il even created a Research Institute for Capitalism in 2000, which allowed price and wage reforms in 2002. The contradictions in the Kim nation-state cult are so extreme that it has allowed political analysts to effectively argue that it bears no resemblance to the theoretical concepts of the Juche Idea.
According to Brian Reynolds Myers, an American associate professor of international studies at Donsengo University in Busan, South Korea and author of, “The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves – And Why It Matters,” Juche theory has created a cult-like xenophobia within North Korea that holds Koreans are racially superior to outsiders.
In an online interview from April 2010, Myers said,
North Korea is a nationalist state . . . and nationalism, especially this kind of race-based nationalism which we see so little of in the rest of the world these days, is, psychologically speaking, an enormously appealing doctrine . . . It's something that a nine-year-old child in North Korea would have no difficulty understanding . . . they believe that the Korean people are racially, inherently good, (and so) it follows that the South Korean people are born just as good as the North Korean people are . . . but the North Korean propaganda apparatus makes a lot of the contaminating influence of the American presence in South Korea, the contaminating influence of American morals . . . The North Koreans believe that South Koreans' racial purity is in danger.
Simply put, the cult-like state of Kim’s empire transcended ideology. It was simply the product of an egomaniac who shaped a militaristic state around his narcissistic fantasies. Resistance from North Koreans has become not only impossible, but unthinkable among North Koreans themselves. That is why North Korea was and remains a threat to democracy and individual freedom everywhere--it is not merely their nuclear power and militaristic mentality, but the dehumanization that transformed a nation of 25 million to revolve completely around the fantasies of one.
The "Democratic" People’s Republic of Korea has always been and remains a threat to the United States of America, the free world and the institution of freedom itself, and it must be stopped.