Rule of the Jungle and My Search to This


Reflection on part I

From the first part, we came to learn that “Juche” as an ideology came into the surface in 1972. I said, “to the surface” because this is just an official use of the term as an ideology. We will see in detail on its historical developments just let’s have patience.

And second, the term is referred by foreign scholars as “Self-Reliance.” Did you get the point? I am highlighting this because; my focus is to co-relate it on how the PFDJ regime is using the word self-reliance. As quoted from Kim II Sung explanation, we can compartmentalize the statement into a number of segments for visualization. Here it follows;

Establishing Juche means, in a nutshell,

1.      … “Being the master of revolution”

2.      … “Being the master of reconstruction” in [one’s own country].

3.      … “This means holding fast to an independent position”,

4.      … “This means that, rejecting dependence on others,

5.      … “Using one’s own brains”,

6.      … “believing in one’s own strength”,

7.      … “displaying the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance”,

8.      … and “thus solving one’s own problems for oneself on one’s own responsibility


What a number of points are coming into flash? I could have left you here, because no additional points will be mentioned outside this. Did you come to read some points which we have been bombarded for the last 10 years? I am saying 10 years, just to emphasis on the years in which the dictatorship was officially came into air. For acceptable reasons, I have left the years before as they are.

Another point that we learned from the first part is, Kim II Sung as initiator and credit holder and his son Kim Jong II as a successful wielder of the Juche idea. Jong II formulated this idea as a political shibboleth to evoke a fiercely nationalistic drive for North Korean independence. He almost converted it as a religious cult. What can he not do if he has to prove the dynasty of his power? And worse, he did this to justify policies of self-reliance and self-denial any external aid even during worst times his own people.

Thanks to our people that we have a strong belief, a belief that has long and strong foundation that sustained almost 2000 years. Both Moslems and Christians. It is impossible to dig this foundation to destroy the existing one and wield it as a political shibboleth. But, PFDJ got a fertile land in formulating his policies according to “Self-reliance approach.” Even this has lots of draw-backs and bold rejection by the major policy makers. But, as the ideology beliefs on one man-rule, those who confronted to such policies became victims. Please check the number of prisoners, more than 10,000! What a shocking phenomenon is this? Just to build the one man system, putting these number in under-ground detention centers.

Are you surprised? Don’t please. Just stay in touch and continue reading.

Juche ideology has three major components. Just three major components, as a specific guidance for its application

a.      Political and ideological independence, especially from the Soviet Union and China

b.      Economic self-reliance and self-sufficiency; and

c.       A viable national defense system.

Now everything is clear like morning sunshine of Massawa. Those who know Massawa, you know what it looks, if not, I wish you to have visit soon. If you read Soviet Union, sure, communism, the Marxism-leninsm, cold war, as a powerful union will come in the front. And not less than this, though not of the same scale, with the word, China, Mao will come. Mao and China are two faces of the same coin. “Maoism,” hard to describe it as an ideology, but because of his powerful figure in the communist China makes him to have such credit. Then what is coming into your mind.

Escaping from these two ideologically powerful countries is hard. Especially by considering the geographical location of North Korea and the hunger they had in disseminating their ideology. In addition to this, NK was totally inspired by such movements to make herself free from the Japanese oppression. How is then possible to be politically and ideologically free? If they can win on this regard, of course the other will be easy. Anyway, they had to device and also became the winners in introducing their own kind of ideology, the Juche ideology, with it’s own components as it is noted.

The question again remains on the economic side. Despite some important mineral resources, such as coal and iron, North Korea did not have sound economic bases. Every decision taken then will lament the situation.  Whatever it demanded  they sticked to their political ideology and as we can today North Korea is the most secretive nation in the world.

What relevance does it has to the Eritrean dimension? Can we read that such decisions were taken in the new millennium? Did they follow the same course of history or Eritrean case is also a new paradigm of the new millennium? Keeping such critical questioning, let’s march.

As noted above the key components are

1. Domestic and Foreign Independence (Chaju)

2. Economic Independence (Charip)

3. Military Independence (Chawi)

Nothing is here known from the points outlined before. Just to be more targetful, the names are clearly elaborated and discussed as it is extracted from the reference paper.

The article continues to say,

Chaju: Domestic and Foreign Independence

The principle of political independence is one of the central tenets of Juche ideology. With respect to international relations, the principles of Juche stress complete equality and mutual respect among nations. Furthermore, Juche ideology asserts that every state has the right of self-determination in order to secure the happiness and prosperity of its people as it best sees fit. These political tenets – equal sovereignty and non-intervention – would satisfy the fierce desire for respect and security of a small and weak nation-state such as North Korea.

In practice, this political stance has caused North Korea to truly become a hermit kingdom because of the huge stigma Juche places upon cooperation with outside powers. According to Juche as interpreted by the DPRK, yielding to foreign pressure or tolerating foreign intervention would make it impossible to maintain chaju, or the defense of national independence and sovereignty. This in turn would threaten the nation’s ability to defend the interests of the people, since political independence is seen as being absolutely critical for economic self- sustenance and military self-defense. Kim Jong II predicted that dependence on foreign powers would lead to the failure of the socialist revolution in Korea.

Among countries that he considered socialist peers, such as China, the USSR, Cuba and several African countries, Kim II Sung urged cooperation and stressed the need for mutual support and limited  dependence.  However, while acknowledging that it was important to learn from the examples of other socialist countries, Kim II Sung was highly sensitive to the problems of flunkeyism towards Moscow and Beijing and the inevitable Marxist-Leninist dogmatism that he abhorred during his guerrilla days. In constructing the socialist revolution in North Korea, he warned that the North Koreans must “…resolutely repudiate the tendency to swallow things of others undigested or imitate them mechanically.”

Furthermore, he claimed that his regime’s “success” was credited to the independent manner in which all problems were solved, conforming Marxist-Leninist principles to the specific conditions of North Korea without altering their fundamental substance.

Domestically, Kim asserted that it was imperative to build internal political forces to ensure chaju. The pivotal factor in the success of achieving chaju would be the extent to which the people rallied around the party and the leader Kim II Sung, and later Kim Jong II himself. This insistence on internal unity of support, stemming perhaps from the elder Kim’s disgust with internal factionalism before the Korean War, conveniently helped to justify his consolidation of personal power.

Charip: Economic Independence

An independent and self-sufficient national economy is necessary both in order to secure political integrity and to achieve national prosperity. Charip – economic independence – is seen as the material basis for chaju, or political independence. Kim II Sung feared that economic dependence on foreign aid would render the state a political satellite of other countries. He believed that it would be impossible to successfully build a socialist republic without the material and technical foundations that would come from an independent national economy. This economy would consist of a powerful base of heavy industry with the machine-building industry at its core, which would equip light industry, agriculture, transport, and all other branches of the economy.

According to Kim Jong II,

“Building an independent national economy means building an economy which is free from dependence on others and which stands on its own feet, an economy which serves one’s own people and develops on the strength of the resources of one’s own country and by the efforts of one’s people.”

Independent food production was seen as being of particular significance because successful farming would provide the people with stabilized living conditions and means to independently support themselves. Just as important to the survival and independence of the national economy was the establishment of reliable and independent sources of raw materials and fuel. Extensive modernization of the economy and training for technically-minded cadres were considered indispensable for the construction of an independent national economy as well.

Kim II Sung was careful to maintain that building an independent national economy on Juche principles of self-reliance was not synonymous with building an isolated economy. Looking at the size of American aid to South Korea, which equaled its fledgling economy’s gross domestic product during the immediate post-war years, Kim Il Sung recognized that North Korea would not be able to survive without significant aid from its communist sponsors. Thus, he encouraged close economic and technical cooperation between socialist countries and newly-emerging nations as an aid in economic development and ideological unity.

… To be continued


Lee G. 2003. The Political Philosophy of Juche. Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs, Volume 3,  Number 1.


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