North Korea’s chuch’e philosophy

Authored by: James F. Person

Routledge Handbook of Modern Korean History

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415739313
eBook ISBN: 9781315816722
Adobe ISBN: 9781317811497

10.4324/9781315816722.ch15

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Abstract

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) upholds the concept of chuch’e (also spelled Juche) as the nation’s official political philosophy. North Korea today maintains that chuch’e, often translated as “self-reliance,” is an idea that has “clarified the philosophical principle that the man [sic] is the master of everything and that he decides everything and, on this basis, illuminated the absolutely correct way of shaping man’s destiny.” 1 In this respect, chuch’e turns Marxism-Leninism, which places material conditions as the driving force in historical progress, upside down. Establishing chuch’e, according to official website of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, means “adopting the attitude of a master towards the revolution and construction of one’s country. It means maintaining an independent and creative standpoint in finding solutions to the problems which arise in the revolution and construction. It implies solving those problems mainly by one’s own efforts and in conformity with the actual conditions of one’s own country.” 2 In practice, chuch’e has meant many things over the years and was later transformed into an instrument of autocratic rule, but at the basis of the idea is an effort to promote and sustain an autonomous national subjectivity.

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