Did I say Slavery is slavery?
Yes, even a single minute should not be allowed for slavery. Let’s stop slavery all together!
In the last six parts, we tried to see what Juche ideology is according to DPRK applications and how Eritreans are treated by this kind of ideology, though, not officially declared as an ideology, at all levels of life spheres. My approach is still from general to quite specific. And more, based on my own observations and interpretations of the ideology. To make how such measures are intermingled in our daily life, I gave some personal experiences and hence a specific in its interpretation.
Then, let me flash you back on the origin of Juche ideology.
As we read in part VI
There are three major schools of thought regarding the origins of the Juche ideology. The first of these is the instrumental perspective, which emphasizes domestic and international relations factors. The second perspective focuses on the influence of traditional Korean politics. The last viewpoint considers Juche to be original political thought stemming directly from the life experiences of Kim II Sung.
Traditional Political Culture
The second perspective is more long-term and focuses on the influence of traditional political culture in Korea. The scholars in this second camp argue that juche is a reflection of a centuries-old tradition of independence from foreign powers. Strategically located at a peninsular tip of the East Asian continent, Korea has long been a pawn of contention between its two powerful neighbors, China and Japan. From the earliest recorded history, the Korean people have fought fiercely to maintain their independence in the face of multiple invasions by Mongols, Manchurians, Han Chinese and Japanese pirates and samurais. The sum total of these invasions may qualify Korea as the most oft-invaded territory in the world. Under the Yi Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 until the Japanese annexation in 1910, Korea became a highly defensive state with a foreign policy of isolation towards the outside world. When Kim Il Sung came to power in North Korea in 1945, he arguably reverted to the highly isolationist policies of pre-modern Korea.
Furthermore, this viewpoint encompasses the exposition of Juche as a brand of Korean Leninist nationalism, a “creative adoption of Marxism-Leninism” peculiarly suited to the Korean situation, described by Kim Jong II as
a difficult and complex revolution which had to deal with the tasks of the anti-imperialist, national-liberation revolution, with formidable Japanese imperialism as the target, and those of the anti-feudal, democratic revolution simultaneously.
Baek Nam Un, a Korean sociologist who later aided Kim Il Sung, said that the situation in Korea requires an independent and creative adoption of Marxism and Leninism, and a peculiar synthesis of nationalism and socialism. Kim Il Sung himself said:
To establish juche is a question of special importance for us in the light of our country’s geographical situation and environments, of the peculiarities of its historical development, and the complex and arduous nature of our revolution.
Individualism: Kim II Sung’s Original Thought
The third viewpoint is the North Koreans’ view of juche as a prime example of their late Supreme Leader’s brilliance and originality. This last group insists that juche was the intellectual result of Kim Il Sung’s highly exaggerated and romanticized personal experience as a guerrilla fighting against the Japanese in the 1930s. This immediate attribution of juche to Kim Il Sung’s personal history is emphasized by his son and heir Kim Jong Il in his book On the Juche Idea. He argues that his father “put forward a juche-oriented line for the Korean revolution” and that “…this was a historical event which heralded the creation of the juche idea and the birth of the juche-oriented revolutionary line.” 22 Kim Il Sung himself had at times maintained that the juche ideology grew out of two major frustrations he felt with the Korean revolution during the anti-Japanese struggle: first, the revolutionary vanguard had lost contact with the proletarian masses and were waging a theoretical battle without mass support; and second, that “flunkeyism” – seeking Moscow’s favor – and factionalism were corrupting the revolution from the inside.
KIM IL SUNG’S POLICY STANCES ON SUBJECTS SUCH AS THE CLASS STRUGGLE, THE IDEA OF THE MASS LINE, THE BELIEF IN ONE’S OWN CAPABILITIES WERE ALL DRAWN PRIMARILY FROM CHINESE AND EASTERN EURO- PEAN THOUGHT. KIM IL SUNG’S GENIUS LAY IN HIS ABILITY TO FUSE THESE ELEMENTS TO- GETHER TO CAPITALIZE ON THE NORTH KOREAN DRIVE FOR INDEPENDENCE.
Philosophical Underpinnings of Juche Ideology
The Juche idea is a Weltanschauung, or world view, that affirms the penultimate value of man’s interests. According to Juche ideology, man has ultimate control over the world and of his own destiny because he alone has chajusong, or creativity and consciousness. Adherents to the juche philosophy claim that this viewpoint of man as dominating and reshaping the world is a unique contribution of Juche ideology to the body of philosophical knowledge. Despite this claim to originality, there is nothing particularly revolutionary or novel in the tenets of the Juche philosophy. Kim II Sung’s policy stances on subjects such as the class struggle, the idea of the mass line, and the role of the single great leader in history and the importance of belief in one’s own capabilities were all drawn primarily from Chinese and Eastern European thought. Kim II Sung’s genius lay in his ability to fuse these elements together to capitalize on the North Korean drive for independence.
Debt to Maoist Thought Kim’s early knowledge of communism came from the Chinese communist guerrilla army with which he trained from 1935 to 1941. During this time, he was tutored and influenced by Wei Zhengmin, a superior Chinese political officer in his guerrilla group. While Kim never acknowledged the extent of his subordination to and affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party, many scholars contend that Kim was a member of the CCP. 24 By the end of the Korean War, Chinese influence in North Korea had overtaken that of the Soviet Union. Kim closely followed Mao Zedong’s political thought and action, which heavily influenced the development of the DPRK’s political institutions in the late 1940s and 1950s.
One example of this emulation was the North Korean strategy of Chollima Undong, which was inspired by Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward movement of 1958-1960. 25 The multi-year economic plans, stress upon rural self-sufficiency and nationalistic and revolutionary fervor that inspired the Great Leap Forward are all characteristics of the Juche ideology of economic self-sufficiency. Kim’s assertion that
Mao Zedong’s political thought and action, which heavily influenced the development of the DPRK’s political institutions in the late 1940s and 1950s. One example of this emulation was the North Korean strategy of Chollima Undong, which was inspired by Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward movement of 1958-1960. The multi-year economic plans, stress upon rural self-sufficiency and nationalistic and revolutionary fervor that inspired the Great Leap Forward are all characteristics of the Juche ideology of economic self-sufficiency.
Kim’s assertion that is
…if one lacks the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance, one will lose faith in one’s own strength, fail to try to tap the inner resources of one’s country, grow indolent and loose, and fall into passivism [sic] and conservatism
highly reminiscent of the Yan’an era of the CCP, during which a belief in the power of the will to overcome seemingly impossible barriers was permanently embedded into Maoist thought. The underlying principle of the Juche ideology is the faithful application of Marxism-Leninism in a case-specific manner that would best suit the history, political conditions and current realities of the country. This theory of different means to the penultimate goal of communism was first stressed by Mao Zedong, especially during the rectification campaign of 1942-44 on the need to “sinify” Marxism- Leninism and halt the mechanical and dogmatic acceptance of the Soviet model as the “universal truth.” 28; 29 Thus, the main tenet of Kim II Sung’s thought can be directly attributed and traced to Mao.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, Kim Il Sung was never willing to publicly acknowledge his ideological debt to Mao, especially after the institutionalization of the Juche ideology as North Korea’s sole political philosophy by the DPRK in the early 1960s. Following this formal linkage of the Juche ideology with North Korean nationalism, the inferiority implications of acknowledging such a great debt to a foreign leader was probably insurmountable both for the consistency of the independent Juche ideology and for Kim’s personal pride.
Korean and Confucian Roots
The Juche ideology that is trumpeted by North Korea as Kim II Sung’s ingenious and original contribution to the body of political philosophy is really drawn from a centuries-old tradition of Korean political thought. Kim himself has acknowledged that he drew the term and idea of Juche from Korean scholars in the early twentieth century, who in turn drew inspiration from
Confucian ideas dating back to the original state philosophy of independence espoused by Korean rulers. The tradition of strong nationalism among the Korean people coexisted with another tradition called sadaechuii, in which the Confucian palace officials and educated elite groups jockeyed for foreign support through sycophancy. 31 Kim’s Juche ideology may represent his reaction to the slave mentality of Sadaechuii as well as an indebtedness to the original nationalistic strain of Korean political culture. Aside from its tremendous appeal to the deep traditional Korean antipathy towards foreign influence, Juche serves to intensify the nationalism of the North Korean people, who are told that world civilization originated from the Korean peninsula.
Application to Society
Indoctrination in juche ideology was seen as the primary concern in the revolutionary struggle for chajusong and the subsequent construction of a socialist republic. 33 Establishing a juche mindset meant the promotion of the attitude that the Korean people could solve all of their problems by their own talents and initiative. Cultivating a sense of national dignity and revolutionary pride was especially important, as evidenced by the great lengths to which cultural aspects of North Korean life such as music and entertainment were monopolized and dictated by the Party under Kim Jong II, Kim II Sung’s son and successor.
The Kim II Sung regime instructed the North Korean people in the Juche ideology using an analogy drawn from human anatomy. The Great Leader is the brain that makes decisions and issues orders, the Party is the nervous system that channels information, and the people are the bone and muscle that physically execute the orders. This belief system, inculcated in North Koreans since early childhood, made them docile and loyal to Kim Il Sung even in the face of famines and energy crises that have devastated the country.
The Juche ideology was widely supported among the North Korean populace because of the doctrine that the success of the socialist revolution depends upon the extent to which the masses rally around and support the leadership. When Kim Il Sung unilaterally declared Juche to be the governing principle of all aspects of North Korean life, as well as the ideological basis of all state policies, the philosophy gained the full authority of Kim II Sung’s godlike status. Having established the infallibility of the Juche philosophy and consolidated their own political power, Kim II Sung and Kim Jong Il were able to use Juche principles of self-sustenance and political and military independence as justification for policies such as the routing of a huge percentage of national income towards military expenditures, despite the famine sweeping through the populace. Due to the power and influence of one man, the Great Leader, the Juche philosophy became inextricably embedded in the economic, political, military and cultural aspects of life in the DPRK.
MARX BELIEVED THAT INDIVIDUAL FIGURES HAD NO CONTROL OVER THE GENERAL TREND OF PRE- DETERMINED HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, AND HE DID NOT GIVE MAN AN EXALTED POSITION IN THE HIERARCHY OF HISTORICAL FACTORS OF IMPORTANCE. KIM IL SUNG, IN CONTRAST, SAW HIM- SELF AS AN ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FIGURE IN THE STRUGGLE OF THE WORKING MASSES AGAINST THE OPPRESSIVE MIDDLE CLASS.
The last part is coming soon
In the last part, I will try to write my reflections on part VII and make a conclusion.
Lee G. 2003. The Political Philosophy of Juche. Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs, Volume 3, Number 1.