Photo credit: Kim Il-Sung depicted in propaganda
KIM JONG-IL was an estranged dictator who ruled over the northern half of the Korean peninsula from 1994 until his death in 2011. His state-run propaganda machine made sure to portray him as a glorious and innovative leader, and this has kept his manufactured image eternal even well after his death.
The first ruler of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was his father —Kim Il-Sung — who ruled from 1948 until 1994, but he is forever to be considered as the Supreme Leader. He is a God according to their system. He will always be the eternal ruler. Fast-forwarding to modern times and still, only a direct decedent of Kim Il-Sung can be the “leader.”
Kim Jong-Un — the Supreme Leader’s youngest grandson — continues to run the family business and the fear of a coup is always haunting him.
North Korea is an anomaly. Much like a flower blooming in a desert or an escarpment carved into the prairies. It attracts and will continue to attract attention from the West, and from the rest of the world because it is unique.
It is a place where ideas like democracy and capitalism have never settled before. The whole force of culture over the last two thousand years, which has emanated from the West — going all the way back to ancient Greece, Rome, France, Britain, and the US — none of it has ever felt or discussed by North Koreans.
It is the only place where you won’t find any kind of commercial advertising. No globalization. The people aren’t even allowed to imagine simple things like freedoms or choices. It’s like another world. An ancient, alien world. Basically, it is an Orwellian society. A place where your every move is monitored, your every word is censored and your own thoughts are manipulated for and by the State.
If you wanted or were able to travel there — which you definitely can but it’s not that simple — you would quickly find yourself going back in time. Into this mysterious kingdom which is literally stuck in the pages of history. In the DPRK, you’d only be a visitor to their world for that very short period time. You’d be the alien.
As a suspicious Imperialist pig, put under constant surveillance because your very presence in their fragile quasi-feudal, fascist kingdom could mean the ultimate demise of their entire civilization. You’re a threat because you have a voice. You would not be left alone for a single waking minute while you’d be there. You cannot just be a tourist; you must be escorted by an official of the State everywhere that you go. That’s really messed up, right? Nowhere else on Earth is like this.
In a recent Human Rights report, the United Nations noted that the DPRK is “a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.” If we look through a Western microscope, it appears as a treacherous place to be. But to the people who live there — it is all that they know. It’s their home. It’s totally real to them and our corporate-based civilization seems like the abnormality. We’re just on the outside looking in, how can we possibly know exactly what is actually going on in there.
We can only keep observing and hope that some day something pops up and reveals itself to us. And until that happens — which it will one day — the secretive life and history of the leader(s), and of the whole country for that matter, will remain in the shadows of our own capitalistic understanding forever.
We live in a world which is, more or less, divided into states. The majority of these states are, more or less, run by democracies which are supposed to be, more or less, representative of the citizens which live and work inside of their borders. Leaders are elected every few years and they are, more or less, just a face of a party of hundreds or thousands of people who actually do the work of the supposed “leader.”
To be a leader of a democratic country, one must find the way through a maze of bureaucracies in order to take hold. Some countries have dictatorships, something which has existed much longer than what most of us know as “how it is.” In a country where there is a dictatorship, one can expect to be surrounded by conflict, propaganda, and tyranny. History has shown that a dictatorship is a bad thing because the leader will just exploit everyone else for his own benefit. In a democracy, man’s own will to exploit is counteracted significantly because leadership or power is spread out among many different people.
The Kim regime is fascinating, to say the least. Unlike other Socialist states like the former U.S.S.R. and North Vietnam or modern communist China — the DPRK is family run. North Korea isn’t socialist or communist either. It is special. Kim Il-Sung invented his own system which lives on forever and the Korean War is not over yet — that’s why there’s a “no man’s land” still cutting through the Korean peninsula.
The DPRK is shooting ballistic missiles off of submarines as they still attempt to prepare for the perpetual invasion of their homeland by the “imperialists.” These defense tests happen often lately, especially since the embargo against them began earlier this year. The harsh international trade sanctions were mandated by the UN and the US — have proven to be detrimental to the export-reliant country. Their self-made quasi-psychotic reputation has dismantled the world’s ability to understand what “perpetual doom” means anymore. Does anyone even pay attention to these articles of nuclear war anymore? Missile after Missile, Threat after Threat.
The agenda that the UN has chosen to grab the attention of the world’s leaders is not working. They just cry wolf on a state-wide scale. Instead of just misinterpreting their senses and calling out by accident, they do it on purpose to ruffle everyone’s feathers. There must be a really good reason why they’re constantly butting heads with the “real” world other than just to remind us that they’re there. It seems like the whole country — physically and symbolically — is right out of a movie or a novel. The sad reality is that the whole northern half of the Korean peninsula has been barricaded off with fences and walls, and was placed beneath an Iron Curtain, and has been there unopposed, for over six decades. Over sixty years!
No other sovereign state is as secluded as the DPRK is. Any connection or “parallel” with the contemporary world has been severed. Physically it is disconnected from the rest of the world with its borders, electronically with its firewalls, mentally with its propaganda and economically with its embargoes. The Juche system is only practiced there. Juche is a mix of State-run capitalism and Autocracy, and Totalitarianism all mixed together. Juche is absolutely unrelated to Communism.
The DPRK found its own form of liberation with the fall of the Japanese empire. After WWII — the occupation of Japan stopped and the dividing of the Koreas began. During the Cold War — the Russians, Chinese, and Vietnamese were all turning to Marxist/Leninist ideas to solve the hardships which were evident in these countries. So after the fighting of the Korean War ended in the 50s, when Kim Il-Sung created Juche — of course, he was inspired by the U.S.S.R.
The current strategy against this lonely, rogue nuclear regime appears to be completely divided countries joining together to put strict trading sanctions against them — to forbid the state itself from receiving much foreign cash. Well, they just export forced labor instead to keep the money coming in. The whole country is a conspiracy after six decades of separation and everyone somehow has to deal with the black market in order to survive there. Almost everyone is a hostage in North Korea. The West isn’t able to see them, even when we go there on their “tours.” Every family, except one — a country of 25 million — are still prisoners of the Korean War.♦♦