GOOD Guide: to North Korea, A North Korean Civics Lesson (sec. 2 of 10) GOOD Guide: to North Korea, A North Korean Civics Lesson (sec. 2 of 10)
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GOOD Guide: to North Korea, A North Korean Civics Lesson (sec. 2 of 10)

by Paul French

April 13, 2007
Juche ("self-reliance") is a political theory combining a little bit of Marxism-Leninism, a dash of Maoism, quite a bit of Confucianism, and some traditional Korean philosophy. No other country has ever adopted Juche, despite a concerted campaign by Pyongyang in the 1970s to export the theory. Actually, no other country showed any interest at all, except the brutal regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia-even the Albanians described North Korea as "an unbelievably closed society." Despite the poor reviews, Pyongyang describes Juche as superior to all other systems of human thought.Juche is the means of achieving true chaju ("independence"). Thus, the ultimate goal of North Korea is not to achieve a perfect communist society, but rather to reach chaju by following the twin goals of charip, the development of an independent and self-sufficient economy, and chawi, the development of a military capable of defending the country. When these two goals are achieved, you have chaju.The concept of chawi is especially important, as it is the theoretical root of Songun thought. Songun, or "Military-First," is Pyongyang's most significant break with traditional Marxism, as it highlights the army as the most important aspect of society, above both the working class and the peasantry.
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GOOD Guide: to North Korea, A North Korean Civics Lesson (sec. 2 of 10)