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THE JUCHE IDEA: NORTH KOREA'S JUCHE IDEA

PROFILE: JUCHE IDEA


The idea of Juche, also known "Kimilsungism" after Kim Ilsung, is the religious, political, social and economic ideology of North Korea ("The Juche Idea").

The Juche Idea was first introduce by Kim Ilsung in 1955 to distance North Korea from the Soviet Union, which at the time was undoing many of the Stalinist policies that Kim Ilsung liked.

Over time, Juche evolved, borrowing from Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism and Confucianism whatever Kim Ilsung and Kim Jongil wanted, as well as their own ideas, and in 1972 replaced Marxism-Leninism in the North Korean constitution as the country's official ideology.

According to Juche, there is no god but Kim Ilsung, the country's "Eternal President", which makes North Korea the world's only country governed by an embalmed dead body. Juche attributed divine powers also to Kim Jongil, the sole author, editor and interpreter of Juche. Whether his divine powers trickle down to Kim Jongun remains to be seen.

Juche espouses political independence and uses as justification the Korean peninsula's long history of suffering as a vassal state or the battlefield for the region's stronger countries. In reality, Juche produced an isolated state immune to international norms and laws, where the only rule of law is Kim Ilsung and his family.

Juche also espouses economic independence, but the reality couldn't be farther from it. The Korean peninsula's northern half, only 18% of whose mountainous terrain is arable, historically depended on the agriculture of the relatively less mountainous southern half of the peninsula for its food. When the peninsula was split north-south in 1953, North Korea lost access to its bread basket, and Juche's disdain for international trade destined its people to hunger and starvation.

The North Korean economy has been kept afloat not by Juche but by massive food and fuel aid from the Soviet Union, China, South Korea, Japan, United States and the United Nations, as well as Juche's sole export crop, opium, which annually earns an estimated $500 million to $1 billion.