The Problems of Human Rights in North Korea (1)
/by Hwang Jang Yop(the Former International-Secretary of KWP)
 
from www.nknet.org/en/keys/lastkeys/2002/7/03.php

 

1. Absolutism of the Great Leader can Never Co-Exist with Human Rights
In North Korea, human rights violation is mentally and morally justified by absolutism of the Great Leader, and is guaranteed by the political and social system.
 

(1) The nature of absolutism of the Great Leader

Absolutism of the Great Leader is Stalinism modified 'for the worse.'

Stalinism's dictatorship of the highest leader is based on Marxist ideas about the class struggle and proletariat dictatorship. Marx himself was opposed to dictatorship of the highest leader and the creation of personality cults. Nevertheless, his thoughts on proletariat dictatorship eventually became the ideological foundation of the dictatorship of the highest leader.


According to Marxist theories, the working class is the most advanced class in society and therefore capable of representing the interests of the entire society and the people. The working class must become the leading class, forming a working class government and establishing working class dictatorship. During Stalin's time, this proletariat dictatorship turned into dictatorship of the highest leader.


The rationale behind the shift from proletariat dictatorship to dictatorship of the highest leader is as follows:


As the most advanced class in society, the working class represents the interests of the entire society (entire people). As the most advanced army of the working class, the communist party represents the interests of the working class. As the most advanced and outstanding communist, the highest leader represents the interests of the communist party. Therefore dictatorship of the working class is dictatorship of the communist party, and dictatorship of the communist party is dictatorship of the highest leader. Thus under Soviet-style socialism, a personality cult was cultivated on a massive scale in order to establish the authority of the highest leader. It became an accepted fact that the highest leader had absolute authority and assumed the position of a life-long dictator.


But in countries with relatively advanced democracy in politics, the concept of dictatorship by an individual leader was not accepted by the public. For example, after World War II when Stalin's personality cult was in its zenith and such personal dictatorships had spread to many countries, the communist party in England opted instead for parliamentary democracy, saying that it was a long-established tradition in England that would be difficult to break. Even Stalin agreed to the English communists' proposal.


The lower the standard of political democracy and the greater the vestiges of feudalism in a country, the stronger its tendency to create a personality cult for its highest leader. In such countries, personal dictatorship by the highest leader was established with little resistance. In this regard, North Korea, with the vestiges of feudalism still maintaining a stronghold on society, was from the very beginning a hotbed for a personality cult. Personal dictatorship was established more firmly in North Korea than in any other socialist country. At first, the dictatorship of the highest leader in North Korea was established under the Soviet Union's supervision and therefore did not deviate much from the Soviet style of dictatorship.


The turning point for North Korea's personality cult and dictatorship of the highest leader came in the late 1960s.


When China sent back-up forces to Korea during the Korean War, Kim Il Sung used the conflict between China and the Soviet Union to start breaking away from Soviet control. He went on to purge all opposition members from the worker's party, and by 1958, he was able to establish dictatorship of the highest leader based on a party filled with only his people.


In the late 1960s, when Kim Il Sung did not follow the Cultural Revolution in China, China accused him of being a 'revisionist.' Kim Il Sung responded by saying that he could put his faith in neither the USSR nor China. He decided that his party had to rely on its own strength to liberate South Korea and achieve reunification. To this end, he implemented policies to pursue both economic and military development, and began to pour his efforts into beefing up the military and preparing for war.


North Korean leaders claimed that they opposed China's Cultural Revolution, but in reality, they imitated the Cultural Revolution on a smaller scale. They created an even more intense personality cult for Kim Il Sung, and launched an ultra-left campaign to rid society of all capitalistic elements. Unlike China where there was a strong political force that opposed Mao, North Korea did not have a visible political force opposing Kim Il Sung. So North Korea's cultural revolution was a simple affair that accomplished its goal with the purging of a few intellectuals. But that simple affair was the turning point in the Kim Il Sung personality cult, which went from strength to strength.


This was also the period when Kim Jong Il graduated from university and entered the Central Worker's Party, where he began to compete against his uncle Kim Young Ju. The two men's rivalry was based on who could put Kim Il Sung on a higher pedestal. Thanks to this competition, the Kim Il Sung personality cult went beyond the Soviet-style dictatorship to become a new concept called 'absolutism of the Great Leader.'


So how is North Korea's absolutism of the Great Leader different from Stalin's dictatorship of the highest leader?


According to Stalin's theory, the highest leader is qualified to represent the interests of the party and the people and to lead the people. The communist party is qualified to lead the working class because it is the most advanced army of the working class, and the highest leader is qualified to represent the interests of the party and to lead the party because he is the most outstanding communist.


Following this theory, the leadership of the highest leader is the leadership of the communist party and the leadership of the working class, and thus, acknowledging the leadership and dictatorship of the highest leader does not run counter to Marx's proletariat dictatorship.


On the other hand, absolutism of the Great Leader, which originated from North Korea, does not start with the working class or the people but with the highest leader. In other words, the leadership of the Great Leader makes it possible for the communist party to exist, and the leadership of the communist party makes it possible for the working class to exist, and the leadership of the working class makes it possible for the autonomous people (people who live as masters of the nation and society) to exist.


In other words, first the Great Leader was born, followed by a brilliant revolutionary idea that he created, followed by the founding of a party to realize his idea, followed by the formation of a revolutionary working class under the leadership of the Great Leader and his party, and then finally followed by the birth of a revolutionary people centering around the working class under the leadership of the Great Leader and his party. To put it simply, the Great Leader exists before the communist party, before the working class and the people, before everything including the state and the military.


Stalinism acknowledged the necessity of dictatorship of the highest leader, but maintained that the highest leader had to serve the party, working class and people. But in North Korea's absolutism of the Great Leader, things work the other way round. The Great Leader does not live for the people; it is the people who live for the Great Leader.


Stalin's dictatorship of the highest leader was an extension of Marxism, which emphasized the need for dictatorship of the working class. There was continued effort to convince the people of the legitimacy and inevitability of the highest leader's dictatorship. Thus the highest leader always carried out his dictatorship in the name of the revolutionary working class. In other words, his orders and instructions were not considered coming from an individual but from the working class.


North Korea's absolutism of the Great Leader, however, makes one individual master over everything. The working class is indebted to the Great LeaderOs benevolence, and live to serve him as the master of its destiny.


North Korean leaders used the feudalistic idea of filial piety to justify absolutism of the Great Leader. Filial piety in feudalism demands that children regard their parents as their benefactors and masters because they would not have existed without their parents. Taking care of your parents, the people who gave you life, in other words, being dutiful children, is the ultimate goal in life and the highest moral code.


The state is a unity of families, and the head of all these families is none other than the king. Therefore the king is the common father of all families, and just as people show filial piety to their parents, they must swear loyalty to their king.


North Korean leaders linked this feudalistic idea of filial piety to the Great Leader, making him 'the father of the people.' Just as a person's physical life comes from his parents, his sociopolitical life comes from the Great Leader. This is because his leadership makes it possible for the party to exist, and the party's leadership makes it possible for the people's government to exist, and the people's government in turn makes it possible for all the people to live as masters of the state and society.


Even animals have physical lives. Having physical life does not make you master of the state and society. To live as master of the state and society, you need not physical but sociopolitical life, and this sociopolitical life is much more important than physical life. Therefore the Great Leader, who gave you your sociopolitical life, is greater and more precious than your parents, who gave you only physical life. So the people have to swear loyalty and filial piety to the Great Leader, who is the father who gave them the most precious life of all.
Then who elects the Great Leader?
The Great Leader is not elected; he is 'elevated' by the people.
 

That Stalin appointed Kim Il Sung as the ruler of North Korea is a historical fact. But the leaders of North Korea insisted that Kim Il Sung was naturally accepted and exalted by his people because of his miracles - founding the anti-imperialism league in 1926 when he was 14 years old, creating the Juche (self-reliance) ideology in 1930 when he was 18, and so on.


As for Kim Jong Il, people compared his birth to the appearance of a bright star and wrote congratulatory messages on huge tree barks, elevating him to the position of Kim Il Sung's heir. Naturally, Kim Jong Il rose to the highest ranks in the People's Army not through elections but through this blind acceptance by the people. It was the same when he became the Secretary of the Workers' Party after the death of Kim Il Sung and when he became chairman of the National Defense Committee.


Since the people do not elect the Great Leader but 'elevate' him, it follows that the Great Leader does not serve the people but grants them his grace, and the people in turn have to repay his kindness by giving him their complete loyalty. In this way, the Great Leader became a sacred figure to the party, state and people, and the most influential element in determining the fate of the people.


According to the leaders of North Korea, the Great Leader holds an absolutely vital position in the revolution. Also, loyalty to the Great Leader is the most sublime expression of loyalty to the party, working class and people, and the highest moral good is dedicating your body and mind to the Great Leader.


(2) The ideological foundation of absolutism of the Great Leader

North Korean leaders focus on two types of propaganda in justifying the absolutism of the Great Leader. The first is to spread ridiculously exaggerated and fabricated stories of the revolutionary activities of Kim il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and the second is to spread a version of the Juche ideology that is distorted by feudalism.


①Exaggeration and fabrication of the revolutionary achievements of Kim il Sung and Kim Jong Il
We take it for granted that Kim il Sung and his comrades in arms took part in the partizan rebellion against Japanese occupation. There are rumors that the partizan hero was not Kim Il Sung, but whatever the case, if Kim Il Sung did participate in the rebellion against the Japanese imperialists, he deserves to be recognized for that. In time, history will reveal the truth. There will come a day when future historians will solve the mystery of whether the anti-Japanese rebel hero was Kim Il Sung or not.


We suspect that Kim Il Sung's career as a revolutionary is ridiculously exaggerated and fabricated. Any one with some common sense will not believe the claim that Kim Il Sung created the Juche ideology in 1930 when he was just 18. In order to originate an ideology that will light up humankind's path towards its destiny, one has to have a great deal of experience struggling for that destiny as well as in-depth knowledge about the development of humankind and the people.


In 1930, 18-year-old Kim Il Sung had neither a secondary school education nor any experience in the people's struggle. Even silkworms need to be fed mulberry leaves to produce silk, so how can a man with no knowledge or experience to speak of come up with a new ideology to lead his people? Before the Korean War, the word 'Juche'(meaning 'self-reliance') did not even exist. The North Korean leaders started using that word during the purging of pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese people from the party, and 'Juche ideology' became an established phrase only in the 1960s. Thus it is impossible that Kim Il Sung could have created the Juche ideology in 1930 when he was only 18 years old.


I was Kim Il Sung's ideology secretary for 7 years since 1958, but I never once heard the man talk about how he tried to create the Juche ideology before the liberation. Actually what I did hear from him was relatively humble remarks such as 'I wasn't a big part of the partizan struggle against the Japanese, but it's better than nothing' or 'I never dreamed back then that I would become the leader of North Korea.' Creating the Kim Il Sung personality cult and exaggerating his role in the revolution was the work of Kim Jong Il rather than Kim Il Sung himself.


A good example is the 'slogan tree' fiasco. As Kim Jong Il began to rise to power, North Korean leaders began to insist that the anti-Japanese partizan struggle led by Kim Il Sung took place over a wide area spanning Northeast China and the Korean peninsula rather than only in Northeast China under the leadership of the Chinese communist party. North Korean leaders claimed that proof of this could be found all over North Korea, in the form of 'slogan trees' trees on which Kim Il Sung wrote anti-Japanese slogans such as 'Down with Japanese imperialism' and 'Long live Korean independence.'


The idea probably came from stories told by independence fighters who recalled that while hiding in the jungle, they had stripped the bark off the trees to write slogans such as 'Long live Korean independence.' But strangely, no such slogan trees were discovered in Northeast China, the main stage of the partizan struggle. The trees were discovered only in North Korea, and over 10,000 of them at that.


Back then, the partizan fighters most probably sent only one or two spies to the Korean peninsula at a time. And they would not have sent spies to North Korea just to strip the bark off trees and write slogans on them. The spies would have been busy avoiding the watchful eyes of the Japanese police as they engaged in secretive intelligence work, so where on earth would they have found the time to strip the bark off trees and make the ink to write slogans on the trees with brushes? It is simply unthinkable. They say that even if the slogans have faded over the decades due to wind and rain, there is a special chemical that will make the slogans reappear. But no one has set eyes on this special chemical before.


This fabrication of history was probably done through the 'Party History Center,' a bureau in the central party, under the personal supervision of Kim Jong Il. I was in charge of drawing up documents for Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and had to review reports and speeches that the Research Center claimed were written by Kim Il Sung during his partizan struggle. So from 1987, I was also put in charge of supervising the works of the Party History Center. I did not involve myself in the Research CenterOs projects; my duties stopped at reviewing the documents and offering my opinion on current issues.


Once I quietly asked a member of the Research Center, 'You say more than 700 slogan trees were discovered on the Moranbong in Pyongyang. But when we were schooling in Pyongyang, we often climbed the Moranbong to have lunch, and we never saw any markings on the trees. Isn't the sudden discovery of hundreds of slogan trees going a bit too far?' To which the official answered, 'The slogan trees on Moranbong are different. The partizans did not strip the bark off them to write slogans with brushes but carved markings on them with knives as a means of communicating with each other.' I was too flabbergasted to question him any further.


Between 1940 and 1941, the anti-Japanese partizans active in Northeast China were driven out of the area by Japanese soldiers and crossed the border into the Soviet Union, where they received military training in the 88th special brigade mobilized by the Soviet Union. According to someone who was with Kim Il Sung at that time, there were about 200 soldiers in the 88th special brigade, of which only about 60 were Koreans. The rest were Chinese. Even the brigade commander was a Chinese, and Kim Il Sung was just one of the four battalion commanders in the brigade. This helps us deduce the size of the armed rebellion against Japanese rule.


So how could so many people have climbed Moranbong and left communication signals on hundreds of trees? I studied in Pyongyang from 1941 to 1987, and saw the big pine trees on Moranbong being smothered to death by thickening acacia trees. The type of trees on Moranbong completely changed then, so how on earth could hundreds of trees still bearing the marks of the partizan fighters have stayed alive?


Next the story of Kim Jong Il's birth on February 16, 1942 in a secret encampment in Mt. Baekdu.


As fore-mentioned, Kim Il Sung went to the Soviet Union after 1940 to train in the 88th special brigade. While serving as a captain in the Soviet army, he married Kim Jong Sook, who gave birth to Kim Jong Il. The boy's Russian name was 'Yura.' All these are historical facts, which at first Kim Il Sung did not deny. But when the exaggeration of his revolutionary career began to show results, he and his son became greedy. Thus the stage was set for the birth of the first legend about Kim Jong Il - his birth in 1942 in a secret encampment in Mt. Baekdu.


Kim Il Sung was enjoying a holiday in the resort in Samjiyeon when he summoned the people who had participated in the partizan struggle and ordered them to find the site of the secret camp in Mt. Baekdu where Kim Jong Il was born. Obviously they could not find something that did not exist. So Kim Il Sung said that he would have to do it himself. He looked around and picked a scenic spot and claimed that that was where the secret encampment had been. He then named the mountain peak behind it 'Jongilbong' (Jong Il Peak).


The Party History Center obtained a huge granite rock and carved the word 'Jongilbong' on it. Then they accomplished the difficult task of hoisting the rock up the Jongilbong and attaching it there. Underneath the rock they built a hut called 'Home of the Mt. Baekdu secret encampment' and went around claiming that this hut was where Kim Il Sung had lived with Kim Jong Sook. This was where he had planted the red flag indicating the commander's headquarters and directed the partizan struggle. And this was where Kim Jong Il was born. He supposedly grew up in this hut listening to the sounds of gunshots of the partizans. It is a historical fact that Kim Il Sung went to the Soviet Union in late 1940 and set foot in Pyongyang for the first time in September 1945. So how could he have fathered Kim Jong Il in 1942 in a secret encampment in Mt. Baekdu?


North Korean leaders claim that it was not the Soviet's Red Army but the few dozen Korean partizans under the leadership of Kim Il Sung that freed North Korea from Japanese rule. It goes without saying that this is an outright lie. Such lies may cause unpleasant feelings because they are such outright lies, but at least they do not cause an intense repugnance for the character of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.


But when I think about how Kim Il Sung forged his career and fooled the people and even lied through his teeth to create a new birthplace for his heir, I wonder if father and son possess any character befitting a revolutionary. I am convinced that they are just shameless, materialistic creatures.


Only people with such base characters can force millions to starve to death and transform a whole country into one big prison while lying with no conscience whatsoever that they have built the worldOs happiest socialist paradise.


The masterpiece of historical fabrication is Kim Il Sung's memoirs 'Together with the Century.'


Kim Il Sung ordered the publication of the memoirs of revolutionaries who had been part of the partizan struggle, and got party members and workers to read the memoirs as part of their studies. Naturally the memoirs were written by writers and journalists to make the half-truths more interesting and flattering to Kim Il Sung. Nevertheless the memoirs proved very useful in heightening the awe and adoration that youths and party members felt for Kim Il Sung and the partizan struggle.


But when Kim Jong Il entered the central party in the late 1960s, he called back all the memoirs written by members of the partizan struggle.


Firstly, Kim Jong Il was concerned that the memoirs detracted from the Kim Il Sung personality cult and created legends about partizans other than Kim Il Sung. Secondly, even if the writers of the memoirs did their best to make a hero out of Kim Il Sung, the contents may contain a grain of truth, which would ironically interfere in further embellishments to exaggerate the revolutionary activities of Kim Il Sung.


From then on, whenever there was a need to publish any other memoirs in the name of other partizans, the Party History Center would review and edit the memoirs and hand them over to the party press center. It was forbidden for any former partizan members to contact publishing houses or news agencies to publish memoirs of their own.


It was from this time onwards that Kim Jong Il directed the production of numerous novels and films about the revolutionary activities of Kim Il Sung. And because Kim Jong Il had personally supervised the production of these works, they were rated as important as the writings that were published in his name, and became compulsory learning material for all party members and citizens. For example, during study sessions at the central party and other central government agencies, members were made to watch one film a week. Films about the revolutionary activities of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Sook were termed 'literature films' (because they had equal status as Kim Jong IlOs literature), and everyone, including the highest-ranking officials, had to watch these films. Sometimes they were ordered to submit film reviews to the party. In this way, the partizan memoirs were wiped out from the peopleOs compulsory study sessions and replaced by novels and films about Kim Il Sung. Some of the more important novels and films even appeared in the study session evaluation tests. The partizan memoirs began to fade in the minds of the people, and they began to accept what they had read and seen in the Kim Il Sung novels and films as historical facts.

It was against this backdrop that the issue of Kim Il Sung's own memoirs emerged. The novels and movies about his revolutionary activities had been created by writers and artists belonging to the central party's propaganda department. Thus the propaganda department insisted that it should be in charge of writing Kim Il Sung's memoirs, but the Party History Center insisted that it should do the honors since the Great Leader's memoirs was part of the history of the revolution.

In the end, Kim Jong Il decided that the honor should go to the Party History Center. The writers came from the pool managed by the propaganda department, with a couple of Party History Center officials acting as advisors in gathering historical resources.

Kim Il Sung's memoirs <Together with the Century> was created by artists who had been writing scenarios for revolutionary novels and films. Thus it made for very interesting reading. When Part 1 was published, it was a huge hit. This was only natural, since its contents were literally scenes straight out of the movies that had been made for the same purpose, and its plot was as interesting as any novel or film.

Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were also very pleased with memoirs, and commended the writers for doing a good job. Kim Il Sung's memoirs was publicized as the laborious work of Kim Il Sung himself and designated compulsory reading material for all party members and citizens and school students. Spurred by the success of Part 1, the Party History Center made grandiose plans to publish memoirs of not only the partizan struggle but also the post-liberation period, and threw itself to the task. The propaganda department began to make use of Kim Il SungOs memoirs in its overseas propaganda.

When Kim Il Sung died on July 8, 1994, there was a debate on whether the party should continue publishing his memoirs. I firmly stated my opinion that the party should stop publishing the memoirs. I pointed out that quite a few people already questioned the integrity of the memoirs published so far because it was too intriguing to be true. So if the memoirs continued to be published even after Kim Il Sung's death, people would lose their faith in even the ones that had been published while he was alive. I also had another reason in mind. It was alright to stretch the truth about the partizan struggle before the liberation since no one would take issue with that. But exaggerating about the post-liberation period, which is public knowledge, was a different matter. I was afraid it might cause problems in diplomatic relations.

Kim Il Sung's partizan warfare was carried out under the guidance of the Chinese communist party, but the struggle in Northeast China (Manchuria) was not a significant part of the communist struggle in China as a whole. Furthermore, Kim Il Sung's partizan struggle was but a small part of the struggle in Northeast China. So the Chinese could turn a blind eye to the North Korean leaders' exaggeration of Kim Il Sung's feats, since his struggle was a drop in the bucket compared to the struggles of the Chinese communist party led by Mao. However, the Chinese people would react differently if the historical facts that were being distorted occurred after the liberation. That was what I was afraid of.

Overzealous officials ignored my advice and submitted the sequel to Kim Il Sung's memoirs for Kim Jong Il's approval. The memoirs are still being published, long after the death of Kim Il Sung. Distortion of history will not go unpunished forever. But for now, the memoirs are still being used to fool the North Korean people and maintain absolutism of the Great Leader.

In order to establish the ideological foundation for absolutism of the Great Leader, Kim Jong Il not only exaggerated his father's revolutionary activities but also resorted to falsifying history to make it seem as if Kim Il Sung and his family were the mainstream in the patriotic struggle against Japanese imperialism.

Everyone knows that countless patriots took part in the March First Movement for Korean independence. But Kim Jong Il distorted history to make it look as if only the Kim family rebelled against the Japanese. He glorified his family as the 'Great Revolutionary Lineage' and tried to turn the revolutionary tradition of the Korean people into a family tradition monopolized by his family.

Until the 1960s, many heroic figures such as Eul Ji Mun Deok, Kang Gam Chan and Lee Sun Shin were recorded in North Korean history textbooks. But with the emergence of absolutism of the Great Leader in the late 1960s, these heroes disappeared from textbooks. Independence fighters such as Ahn Chang Ho and Shin Chae Ho are described as 'toadies who had to depend on foreign forces to survive.'

Kim Jong Il coined the term 'the Three Generals,' a legendary trio led by Kim Il Sung, plus Kim Jong Il, who had nothing to do with the partizan struggle, and Kim Jong Sook, who was an ordinary member of the partizan guard. Other family members such as Kim Il Sung's parents Kim Hyung Jik and Kang Ban Seok and two uncles were called 'indomitable warriors of the revolution.' He even built elaborate tombs for Kim Il Sung's grandparents and made party officials visit the grave to offer flowers on public holidays.

By monopolizing the patriotic struggle of the Korean people and emphasizing the importance of upholding the tradition of the revolution, Kim Jong Il, as the descendent of Kim Il Sung, tried to convince the people of his qualifications as the successor of the revolution and the next leader of the Korean people.

The importance of a person is not determined by what he thinks of himself but by an objective evaluation of his achievements. Kim Il Sung' personality cult was forced on the people by Kim Il Sung and his son; it was not the result of objective evaluation.

Kim Il Sung is entitled to a favorable evaluation for participating in the partizan struggle against the Japanese in his youth. Although it was Stalin who appointed him the ruler of North Korea, it is true that he was the youngest and most capable of the partizans, which is what got him appointed in the first place. No one challenges this.

Then what would be an objective evaluation of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il's achievements?

- Did Kim Il Sung and his partizan struggle liberate North Korea from Japanese rule?

No. None of the partizan fighters including Kim Il Sung participated in the battle to liberate North Korea. This was accomplished by Soviet's Red Army alone.

- Was Kim Il Sung right in instigating the Korean War?

He was wrong to do so. The Korean War brought immeasurable grief and suffering to the Korean people and great losses to the people of China and the US as well.

- Was Kim Il Sung right in passing the government to his son Kim Jong Il? Was Kim Jong Il right in inheriting the government from his father?

They were both wrong. Transferring state power from father to son shows that they are guilty of the crime of turning the government, which belongs to the state and the people, into their private property. In a socialist country, the state has monopoly over not only government power but also all property rights. By monopolizing the government, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il became plunderers who intercepted the power to rule over the people as well as all economic and cultural rights. They turned the people into slaves who had to obey their every command. There is no doubt that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are to blame for making millions of people starve to death and for turning the whole country into one huge prison.

And yet Kim Jong Il persists in his despicable crimes, calling the Korean people 'Kim Il Sung's people' and his birthday 'The Day of the Sun,' and designating the times the 'Juche Era' as if Kim Il Sung was royalty. Furthermore, the only achievements that Kim Jong Il can call his own are destroying the self-reliant economy that his father had built and driving the North Korean people into absolute poverty. That he is called 'our great love,' 'a respected figure in world politics' and 'the sun of the 21st century' is nothing but a farce. This alone proves beyond doubt that absolutism of the Great Leader is an ideology based on incredible falsehood and deception.

② The conversion of the Juche ideology into absolutism of the Great Leader
At first, North Korea accepted Stalinism as its guiding ideology. Soviet advisors supervised every aspect of political, economic and cultural life in North Korea, before the Soviet army withdrew in 1948 and even afterwards, right until the Korean War. Those in power were North Koreans born in the Soviet Union with Russian citizenship.

During those times, there was not much difference between North Korea and other states in the Soviet Union. At all events, the North Koreans shouted 'Long live Stalin' before shouting 'Long live Kim Il Sung.' All the party officials were intent on besting one another in showing their loyalty to the Soviet Union; no one dared talk about becoming self-reliant or gaining independence.


With China's participation in the Korean War and the death of Stalin, the Soviet Union's hold on North Korea began to weaken rapidly. By that time, Kim Il Sung already had the military under his control as the commander-in-chief of the PeopleOs Army, but Koreans with Soviet citizenship were still in control of the party. Kim Il Sung took advantage of the weakening of Soviet influence to take over the party as well.

During the 4th meeting of the whole house of the DPRK Workers' Party in November 1951, Heo Ga Ee, the pro-Soviet official that had been in charge of the party's projects, was dismissed from his position. This was a significant incident that signaled not only Kim Il Sung's rise to power in the party but also the beginning of the historical struggle to break away from Soviet control.

After the Korean War, Kim Il Sung cunningly took advantage of the power balance between China and the Soviet Union to purge first of all the South Chosun Workers' Party members, followed by the pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese party members. He thereby succeeded in establishing a dictatorship with the backing of his own supporters. From then on, Kim Il Sung strongly criticized toadying to the Soviet Union and the doctrinarism of mechanical imitation of the Soviet Union. He also began to emphasize the ideology of self-reliance.

Breaking away from Soviet control and gaining independence was an important concern for not just North Korea but all the socialist states and the international communist movement as a whole. Even after the abolishment of the Comintern in 1943, Soviet Union was regarded as the suzerain state of socialism and the main base of the international communist movement. The party line and policies of the Soviet communist party was considered the international line that all communist parties had to follow. There were quite a few communist parties that were dissatisfied with this subordinate relationship they had with the Soviet communist party.


In particular, Yugoslavia, which claims that it achieved liberation on its own strength, openly opposed the instructions of the Soviet communist party. After the death of Stalin, even the Chinese communist party openly criticized the Soviet Union, saying that the Soviet communist party should not act as if it was the 'father' of all the communist parties. This global trend provided the backdrop against which Kim Il Sung was able to gain the people's support to oppose toadyism and doctrinarism and establish the ideology for self-reliance. In this regard, he did play a positive role in bringing about North Korea's autonomy.


At first, Kim Il Sung used the matter of gaining autonomy to further his goal of breaking away from Soviet control and establishing a dictatorship based on his own sect that acknowledged only him as the highest leader. From 1958, he got his ideology secretaries to rewrite the 'Kim Il Sung Selection,' which was a collection of the reports and speeches he had given until that time. Through this project, any records that gave the impression of worshipping the Soviet Union were destroyed, and all records of 'Long live Stalin' were also deleted.

At the same time, Kim Il Sung presented the people with an original party line and policy, which he claimed was a creative application of Marxism-Leninism to North Korea's reality. It was during this time that the principles of ideological self-reliance, political autonomy, economic independence and military self-defense came into the picture. These principles were declared the basic position in the pursuit of autonomy and creativity.

In pursuing autonomy and creativity, Kim Il Sung tried to create his own style in projects and working methods. The 'Chollima Campaign,' a national competition to increase productivity, was based on his newly-found style and method. All these had a positive influence in social development in North Korea.


However, by the late 1960s, this Juche ideology began to turn into the ideology of the absolutism of the Great Leader. Until then, the Juche ideology was considered an adaptation of Marxism-Leninism suited to North Korea's reality. The list of mandatory reading material for study sessions always put the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin before those of Kim Il Sung.

But with the establishment of absolutism of the Great Leader, only literature by Kim Il Sung was listed as compulsory reading for the party's study sessions; Marxist classics were relegated to reference material. At one point, even these classics were taken away by the authorities.

When Kim Jong Il began to take over the reins, the task of establishing the one-ideology system and the sole leadership of the Great Leader was declared the first and foremost task of the party. To this end, several rounds of ideological struggles took place within the party, and all the projects of the party were geared towards establishing the one-ideology system and the sole leadership of the Great Leader.

Establishing the one-ideology system means making the Great Leader's ideology the exclusive ideology of the entire society and completely rejecting any other ideology. The task of establishing this one-ideology system includes idolizing the Great Leader, turning his ideology into a faith, making his ideology absolutely legitimate, and swearing unconditional loyalty to him. Establishing the sole leadership of the Great Leader means making the entire party, military, state and people move as one to the commands and instructions of the Great Leader.

The one-ideology system and sole leadership of the Great Leader are two sides of a coin. The one-ideology system demands that everyone thinks and acts only according to the Great Leader's ideology and will. This demand manifests itself in the form of the sole leadership of the Great Leader.

When talking about establishing the one-ideology system, it is taken for granted that this involves establishing the sole leadership of the Great Leader. And when talking about establishing the sole leadership of the Great Leader, it is taken for granted that it is on the premise that the one-ideology system is established. The two are the organizational and ideological aspects of the same concept.

Making the Great Leader's ideology and leadership absolute values form the basic content of absolutism of the Great Leader. Then how was the Juche ideology used to justify the absolutism of the Great Leader's ideology and leadership? Answering this question will also explain how the Juche ideology was converted to absolutism of the Great Leader.

The Juche ideology started from opposition to toadyism and doctrinarism and from the creative application of Marxism-Leninism to adapt to North Korea's reality. Adapting Marxism-Leninism to suit North Korea's reality means two things.

The first is adapting the ideology to suit the interests of the Korean people, and the other is adapting it to be compatible with North Korea's social development and natural and geographical conditions.

At first, the emphasis was on applying Marxism-Leninism to North Korea, which was in a distinctly different situation from other countries. But gradually, the emphasis shifted to adapting the ideology to suit the interests of the people.


Thus the basic requirements in achieving self-reliance became opposing toadyism and adopting an autonomous viewpoint that seeks to protect the interests of the people, and opposing doctrinarism and adopting a creative viewpoint that seeks to handle all matters in a way that suits the conditions facing the country.

Together with the emphasis on opposing toadyism and adopting an autonomous viewpoint that seeks to protect the interests of the people, the idea that the people are the masters of the revolution and construction was established. Refusing to worship another country (a more powerful country) and protecting the interests of one's own people became the first and foremost requirements in achieving self-reliance.

In more concrete terms, this meant moving from following and imitating the Soviet Union to protecting the interests of the Korean people and solving all problems in a manner suited to North Korea's situation.

This change can be summed up as a shift from accepting Stalinism as the guiding ideology to accepting Stalinism and nationalism as the guiding ideology. Until the end of the 1960s, the Juche ideology was a combination of Stalinism and nationalism. Until this time, the Juche ideology was completely within the theoretical framework of Marxism, and lacked the theoretical foundation to distinguish itself from Marxism.

Then in the 1970s, the task of systematically establishing the theory of the Juche ideology based on the new human-oriented philosophy began in earnest.

The human-oriented philosophy differs from the historical materialism of Marxism in how it views the nature of social movement.

Marxism begins with the theory that the ideal is a reflection of the material. Marxism divides all social phenomena into the material and ideal, and tries to define the laws of social movement based on the principle that the material defines the ideal. Marxism assumes that since social movement is also a material movement, it would be similar to the movement of Nature. Therefore, just as the movement of Nature follows a definite law, so does the movement of society. The only difference is that unlike the movement of Nature, human ideas (consciousness) operate on social movement, making it seem as if there is no definite law governing social movement. However, because ideas are reflections of the material, they do not have an independent and definite law of movement. Thus ideas are simply invariable reactions to material social movement, which is governed by a definite law.

What then is the material aspect of social movement? That is, what is material social movement?

Material social movement is defined as production activities meant to provide the means through which human beings reorganize Nature to derive their food, clothing and commodities. Without such production activities, the social life of human beings would not be possible, and there would be no such thing as the development and advancement of social life. Social movement by nature means the economic activity of creating, distributing and consuming material wealth, and all other social phenomena including politics and culture are derivatives of this economic activity.

What then is the definite law that governs economic activity, that is, the material movement of society?

It is the law that the relationship of production corresponds to advancements in productivity. How then should we view the interaction between material life and ideal life? By accepting that the social existence of human beings defines their social consciousness.

What is the basic element of the social existence of human beings?

It is the method of production, which is the combination of productivity and production relationships. Social consciousness is a reflection of human beings' social existence, and social mechanisms, the manifestation of social consciousness, constitute the superstructure of society.

To recapitulate, the relationship of production corresponds to advancements in productivity, and based on and reflecting the relationship of production are the various forms of thoughts and consciousness, and these are manifested in political, legal and cultural mechanisms, which constitute the superstructure of society. The superstructure is defined by the foundation, but at the same time reacts to it. This is the formula in MarxOs historical materialism.

Marx divides social movement into the ideal and material. That is, he claims that the economic movement underpinning social movement is the nature of social movement and that the law governing the economic movement is the material law of social movement. However, Marx does not mention who initiates the movement and for whom it is initiated. He fails to pay due attention to the subject of social movement, which is of fundamental significance in defining the nature of social movement as opposed to the movement of Nature.

Movement is an expression of the properties of the material that is in movement. What is the fundamental difference between the movements of non-living things and living things? Non-living things interact blindly, whereas living things move according to a purpose based on the instincts of self-preservation and perpetuation. This is what sets biology apart from all other sciences such as physics, chemistry and astronomy.

What then is the fundamental difference between the movement of animals, which are biological beings, and humans, which are social beings?

The movement of animals is geared towards instinctively adapting to their environment and fulfilling their needs, whereas the movement of humans is geared towards reorganizing the material world with their autonomous ideas and creative abilities, thereby fulfilling their needs in an autonomous and creative way. This is the basis for the formation of social science, which is distinguished from biology and all other natural sciences.

The characteristics of human-led social movement are defined by the characteristics of the social existence of humans. Humans possess more than the instinctive needs and physical strengths that they are born with. Humans possess mental strength (ideological and cultural assets that form the social consciousness) accumulated in the process of social life, as well as material strength (socially produced material assets). They also have the strength to socially unite and cooperate with each other.

The advancement of humans is defined by the development of their mental strength, material strength and strength for social cooperation. If follows that the advancement of social movement, which is initiated by humans, is also defined by the development of the same strengths. Humans, the subject that initiates and propels social movement, are therefore not biological beings with only physical instincts but social beings with mental, material and cooperative strengths.

With the view that the social beings in a society are the subject of social movement (the material beings that initiate and propel social movement), we came up with the following definition of the Juche ideology in September 1972.

'The Juche ideology is the ideology that the people are the masters of the revolution and construction and that the people possess the strength to propel the revolution and construction.' 'It is the ideology that I am the master of my destiny and that I possess the strength to pioneer my destiny.'

We used the terms revolution and construction in the definition because at that time, North Korean society referred to all social movement in pioneering human destiny as revolution and construction.

To paraphrase the definition of the Juche ideology in more generic terms, 'it is the ideology that the people are the subject of social movement and that the people have the strength to propel social movement.' In other words, 'it is the ideology that humans are the masters of human destiny and that humans have the strength to pioneer their destiny.'

This initial definition of the Juche ideology does not contain any elements of class distinction or absolutism of the Great Leader. However, North Korean leaders soon distorted this definition to suit their theory that 'the Great Leader gives the party its existence and the party gives the working class its existence and the working class gives the people their existence.' Thus according to the distorted definition of the Juche ideology, the Great Leader is the master of social movement and the master of the people's destiny, and he plays the most influential role in determining the destiny of the people.


North Korean leaders also distorted the theory regarding sociopolitical life forms defined by the human-oriented philosophy to justify absolutism of the Great Leader. The human-oriented philosophy says that it is humans' social nature to value not just one's own life but also the life of the social group.

This is connected to the ideology that humans are individual beings and at the same time social beings that cannot survive outside the social group. Since animals have instincts for self-preservation as well as species preservation, it can be said that the life of the species is important to animals as well.

There is no doubt that individuals have life. The basic characteristics of life is the need to live and the ability to fulfill that need. The social group, which is formed by the unity of individuals, is also characterized by the need to survive and the ability to fulfill that need. Therefore the social group can also be regarded as a social life form since it also has life.

The social group gains strong life when individuals unite according to the social nature of humans. The social nature of humans seeks to preserve the lives of both the individual and social group. In order to do this, it is important to realize the principle of democracy to guarantee the freedom and equality of individuals while at the same time realizing the principle of comradely cooperation to guarantee the close cooperation of the members of society.

Creating such social relationships is possible only through politics. When all privileges are done away with and all social relationships become autonomous and cooperative, so that people share their joys and sorrows and pioneer their own destinies in an autonomous and creative manner, then such a social group can be regarded as a sociopolitical life form. We had used the concept of sociopolitical life form to characterize the ideal social relationship in which all people enjoy complete freedom and equality and ideal social cooperation.

However, North Korean leaders claimed that sociopolitical life form was a society that moves as one under the unique ideology of the Great Leader. In addition, the Great Leader is at the center of this sociopolitical life form and acts as the brain, and the people are like the organs in the body that follow the brain's commands. North Korean leaders went as far as to compare the Great Leader to the seed of a peach and the people to the flesh of the peach. In other words, the flesh of the peach exists to protect the seed, meaning that the people exist to fulfill the needs of the Great Leader, not the other way round.

As the personality cult of the Great Leader intensified, so did the policies that were needed to keep the people ignorant and blindly faithful to the cult. Consequently, North Korea today is filled with ridiculous myths that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. These myths are even published in the Rodong Shinmun, the mouthpiece of the Workers' Party.

Absurd stories have spread throughout North Korean society. For example, upon the death of Kim Il Sung, white cranes were spotted circling over the statue of Kim Il Sung to mourn his death, Kim Il Sung's portrait appeared high up in the sky, and so on and so forth. And when Kim Jong Il visited Panmunjeom, the sky turned foggy to protect him from South Korean snipers, but when he reached the soldiers guarding the checkpoints at Panmunjeom, the fog dramatically disappeared and glorious sunlight shone on his magnificent form.

Proclaimed Kim Il Sung in a poem of praise that he wrote on the occasion of the 50th birthday of his beloved son, 'Heaven and earth shake with the resounding cheers of all the people united in praising him.'

Kim Jong Il went to great lengths to create the Kim Il Sung personality cult, and Kim Il Sung led the efforts to turn Kim Jong Il into a god. And thus in the small, hermit land of North Korea, people lived under the illusion that the entire world revolves around the two suns Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.