Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System

Definition: The regulations that reign supreme over the everyday lives of the North Korean people, proposed by Kim Young Joo in 1967 and officially announced by Kim Jong Il in 1974.


1. We must give our all in the struggle to unify the entire society with the revolutionary ideology of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.

2. We must honor the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung with all our loyalty.

3. We must make absolute the authority of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

4. We must make the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung? revolutionary ideology our faith and make his instructions our creed.

5. We must adhere strictly to the principle of unconditional obedience in carrying out the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung's instructions.

6. We must strengthen the entire partys ideology and willpower and revolutionary unity, centering on the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

7. We must learn from the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung and adopt the communist look, revolutionary work methods and people-oriented work style.

8. We must value the political life we were given by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung, and loyally repay his great political trust and thoughtfulness with heightened political awareness and skill.

9. We must establish strong organizational regulations so that the entire party, nation and military move as one under the one and only leadership of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

10.We must pass down the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end.


What is the most important and essential principle in understanding North Korean society? To put it more simply, what is it that has the greatest influence on the everyday lives of the North Korean people? Most North Korean defectors do not hesitate to say that it is the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System(the Ten Principles).

On 28 June 1967, upon the proposal of Kim Young Joo, Kim Il Sung's younger brother and organizing director of the Workers' Party Central Committee, the agenda 'Regarding the establishment of the one-ideology system of the party' was adopted at the 16th meeting of the whole House of the 4th Workers' Party Central Committee. At this meeting, the 'Ten Principles were drawn up and officially announced by Kim Jong Il as the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System' on the eve of Kim Il Sung's birthday in 1974.

It is not clear who initiated the Ten Principles that became the foundation of idolization of the Great Leader. But it is supposed that after some rivalry between Kim Il Sung's younger brother and eldest son, Kim Jong Il eventually won and became the heir apparent, after which he began to lead the establishment of the Ten Principles. Thus, the Ten Principles, announced in 1974 after he had taken over the reins, is a display of Kim Jong Il's status, since Article 10.1 declares, "The entire party and society will adhere strictly to the one-ideology system, and establish the one and only leadership of the Central Party so as to complete in shining glory revolutionary achievements of the Great Leader." (Back then the 'Central Party' was how North Korea referred to Kim Jong Il.) According to Hwang Jang Yop, not a single report, however insignificant, reached Kim Il Sung without going through Kim Jong Il first, and not a single instruction from Kim Il Sung was passed down without going through his son first.

The Ten Principles, comprised of a total of 10 articles and 65 clauses, describes in detail through each clause how to go about establishing the one-ideology system. All North Koreans naturally have to know the Ten Principles by heart. Not only that, they have to put all the principles into practice. And during evaluation meetings organized by Kim Jong Il to be held every two days and two weeks, people have to conduct self-criticism sessions to evaluate whether they have been living up to the Ten Principles.

"The people shall participate actively in the alternate-day and fortnightly evaluation meetings, where the Great Leaders instructions and the party's policies should be used as the yardstick in setting high political and ideological standards to evaluate their work and lives, carrying out ideological struggles through criticism, and forging revolutionary ideals and continuously improving themselves through ideological struggles."(Article 8.5)

Among the pictures drawn by Gilsu - his family became famous for their demonstration at the UNHCR Beijing office appealing for asylum to South Korea - is a picture of soldiers burning to death in a mountain fire while trying to protect the slogan trees, as well as a picture of a boy who saved Kim Il Sung's portrait from a fire in his school while his classmates burnt to death. Such behavior might seem bizarre to South Koreans, but knowing the Ten Principles may help them understand.

"Portraits, plaster figures, bronze statues and emblems of the respected and beloved Great Leader, publications that include the Great Leader's portrait, works of art symbolizing the Great Leader, signboards with the Great Leader's instructions, and the party's basic slogans shall all be treated with respect and protected at all costs." (Article 3.6)

"Meaningful books and relics of the history of the revolution, which are imbued with the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung's great revolutionary history and achievements, shall be handled and maintained with respect and protected at all costs." (Article 3.7)

You do not have to actually oppose Kim Jong Il to be in violation of the Ten Principles. If you happen to tear up a piece of the Rodong Shinmun to roll tobacco in and it so happens that Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il's name was printed on that piece of newspaper, or if you happen to say the wrong thing, you will be treated as a worse criminal than a murderer. Actually in North Korea, most crimes will be forgiven and forgotten for a small bribe. But when it comes to the Ten Principles, no one dares risk the severe punishment that would befall them if they were caught taking bribes in return for overlooking violations.

There are dozens of laughable episodes related to the Ten Principles. The following is an account by Choi Young Joo, who escaped North Korea to come to South Korea in 1998.

"One day my husband made a grievous mistake. He was cleaning the photo of Kim Il Sung when he accidentally dropped the frame and broke it. In North Korea this constitutes a truly grave crime that can get the entire family purged. Soon the time came for my husband to conduct a self-denunciation session in front of all the workers at the hospital. After this open self-criticism session, we were to wait for the decision on how we were to be punished. But right at that moment, the inspections guards crashed into the hospital to carry out a search of the hospital. And because of the investigation, my husband's error went unpunished for 15 days.

In North Korea, there is something called the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System. It's like the Ten Commandments in the Bible, superseding all other laws and regulations and dictating all the aspects of the people's lives. You cannot survive in North Korea society if you violate the Ten Principles. Cleaning the frames containing pictures of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il every morning is also dictated by the Ten Principles. Any violation of the Ten Principles must be punished within 15 days. But because of the sudden search of the hospital by the inspection guards, my husband's open self-criticism session was postponed and 15 days went past. In North Korea, if a crime related to Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il is not punished in 15 days, the person responsible for punishing the culprit will also be punished severely. So thanks to our lucky stars, my husband? case was hushed up."

Another episode.
"At the end of the 1980s, a famous poet wrote a poem entitled 'The Party!' In North Korea, even the smallest piece of literature goes through 7 steps of censorship before publication is approved. And in the first step of censorship, this poem generated a debate over whether people would realize who's Party the poem was referring to. So the title was corrected to read 'The DPRK Workers Party!' And then during the next step of censorship, another debate arose over what kind of Party the Workers' Party was. So the title was corrected once again to 'The glorious DPRK Workers Party!' The next debate was over whom the Party belonged to, and so the title underwent another transformation, becoming 'Comrade Kim Il Sung's Glorious Party!'

Nothing is approved in North Korea unless censorship guarantees that it is the acme of idolization. That is how Kim Jong Il came to own so many famous phrases used exclusively to describe him. So does this mean that such eulogies have nothing to do with Kim Jong Il's intentions but are the work of a few sycophants? No. The Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System was written by Kim Jong Il himself and stipulates clearly that the most important law in North Korea is respecting Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the highest and most supreme leaders. And that stipulation is what generates all these episodes.

Although it does not bear any significance now, the Workers' Party Charter backs up the Ten Principles. "The Workers' Party regards the establishment of the one-ideology system as the basic principle for its foundation and activities." (Workers Party Charter: revised during the 6th Party Convention on 13 October 1980)

It is not just the North Koreans who have to adhere to the Ten Principles. Even South Koreans and foreigners visiting the country are made to abide by the Ten Principles. South Korean dance music groups Jechs Kiss and Finkle, who performed in the '2000 Peace and Friendship Music Concert' held on 5 December 1999 at Bonghwa Art Theater in Pyongyang, were told over and over again not to point their fingers at the audience while singing. This was because most of the people in the audience had Kim Il Sung badges pinned on their chest, and pointing at the audience may be regarded as pointing the finger at Kim Il Sung, a blasphemous act in North Korea. Because of these circumstances, the words and deeds of people who visit North Korea frequently become the center of controversy between left and right wings. And North Korean officials are said to plead with foreign visitors to offers flowers in front of the statue of Kim Il Sung or other sites of the revolution, so that they can take pictures of such scenes to be used in propaganda both at home and abroad.

There are still many North Korea researchers and students in South Korea who tend to look at North Korea only through the propaganda and materials officially disseminated by North Korean authorities. Thus they do not make an effort to understand the importance of the Ten Principles and how they influence the people's lives and the entire North Korean society. That is why many North Korean defectors thumb their noses at the claims of so-called experts on North Korea. To understand North Korean society, you have to look at it from the North Korean people's point of view, searching for what dictates and oppresses their lives. If you truly want to understand North Korea, you have to look at the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System, for they contain all that we find difficult to understand about North Korea, all the aspects that make life unbearable for its people.