Cultural Analysis of North Korea

Table of Content

North Korea is a country shrouded in mystery and characterized by poverty, extreme governmental control, and isolation. The government controls almost every aspect of the citizen’s lives from what kind of clothing they wear, to what religion can be practiced legally. The division between the lower class and the high class grows wider every day.

Government officials and military personnel live in luxury while the average North Koreans struggle to provide food for their family. The economy has recently grown a bit stronger than in previous years, but food aid is still needed to avoid mass starvation. Famine, malnutrition, and natural disasters are still a big problem in North Korea.

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Education is centered on creating children who grow up to be true communists in thought and behavior who worship the political leader and demonstrate unconditional loyalty to the country. Propaganda and political ideology infect every form of entertainment from books, to movies, to advertisements. Diversity is scarce in North Korea. One language is spoken everywhere in the nation. Besides the few Japanese that still sparsely populate the larger Korean cities, every citizen is from Korean ancestry. The only religion that is legal was created and promoted by the government to reflect the central political ideas.

The average citizen in North Korea is very poor. The government provides clothing and food aid to many Korean people. The smaller villages inland between the mountains are settled by farmers that combat natural disasters that affect crop growth almost every year. The coast is spotted with the larger cities of North Korea with its most populated city Pyongyang being located in the southwest area of the country.

The citizens are required to be fiercely loyal to the government and traitors are not tolerated. Imprisonment awaits any North Korean who tries to leave the country or landers against the government. Most nuclear weapon development facilities have been shut down in the recent years thankfully due to American pressure. The government has gone back on its word more than once in North Korea’s lifetime. It first claimed that the facilities were shut down but then miraculously reopened less than a year later. The communist regime has been anything but honest in North Korea. The people are manipulated and brainwashed into believing that the government is the greatest institution in the world and that it is the best compared to any other country.

Their leader Kim Jong-Il is viewed as almost being a deity whose methods cannot be questioned and is always correct. The ruthless dictatorship is the main personification that is associated when thinking of North Korea. Introduction This report is a cultural analysis of the country of North Korea. The paper itself analyzes the history, geography, education, language, economy, and politics of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea known simply as: North Korea. Group 4 chose this particular country out of curiosity and the want to find out what the nation was like. Not many facts are known about North Korea and its shady past.

This project explores everything from the difficult relationships between the Korean people and their government, to the famines and floods that threatened the entire survival of the country. The research has shed light on the corruption of the North Korean government and the reign of ruthless leaders such as Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il. The politics of North Korea have been questionable at best in the nation’s history. Finally they are making progress to renew laws that better fit into North Korean society, but the process is slow. Change does not come to North Korea quickly.

This paper will delve into the little known aspects of North Korea. Hopefully, a better understanding of the country’s characteristics can benefit both the neighboring nations and the United States. Perhaps some day, North Korea will recover from it’s previous grievances to become a nation that supports its people, instead of limiting freedoms and demanding unconditional loyalty. North Korean History Brief History World War II has greatly impacted North Korea since 1945. Promised independence after defeating Japan, Korea ended up dividing into two separate nations: North and South.

North Korea was taken over by the U. S. S. R. and Koreans known as leftists became powerful in the country. In 1947, North Korea denied UN access to hold countrywide elections for a new government, because it was thought to be a scheme by the U. S. to obtain dominance over the entire peninsula. North Korea’s communist controlled government proclaimed independence on September 9, 1948 under Premier Kim Il Sung and became the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In April 1950, Kim Il Sung met with Stalin and Soviet authorities to convince them that he could win a war against South Korea.

On June 25, 1950, South Korea was invaded by North Korea starting an international phase of civil war that gathered considerable intensity as the years wore on. This war was declared the “Fatherland Liberation War”, which was believed to be carried out without warning or provocation. After North Korea’s refusal to withdraw from the invasion ordered by the UN Security Council, it was then turned over to the UN General Assembly who authorized military action. Backed by the Soviets, North Korea led a strong campaign within the first month, but was then forced to retreat due to the surprise counterattack by the UN, led by U. S. orces.

The Chinese People’s Volunteer Army, made up of about 3 million troops, came to the aid of North Korea and forced back the UN which caused a face-off over the 38th parallel. North Korea, the UN Command, and China signed an armistice ending the war. Both adhering to its provisions, neither the U. S. nor South Korea signed the agreement and a demilitarized zone was established along the border. In April 1954, an international conference was convened at Geneva to find a political solution to the division of Korea. After seven weeks, the conference ended with no agreement or progress, and no final peace treaty was ever signed.

The end of the war caused an establishment of a work camp system similar to the detention for “political” prisoners used in the Soviet Union. By the end of the century, it was estimated that between 150,000 and 200,000 prisoners were being held in six to seven different complexes. The majority of these inmates face life sentences for unreasonable crimes such as reading a foreign newspaper, singing a South Korean pop song, or “insulting the authority” of North Korean leadership. Kim Il Sung held a decree that not only were the prisoners to serve life in prison, but also the next three generations of his family would be sentenced as well.

Around April 1955, there was a large meeting held in Bandung, Indonesia for leaders of 29 African and Asian nations. At that meeting, Kim Il Sung was presented with a Hybrid Orchid, which later became one of North Korea’s national flowers. Thirteen years later on January 21, there was a raid by the North Korean commandos to attempt an assassination of North Korea’s president Park Chung Lee. Kim Il Sung denied any knowledge of the planned attempt. Two days later, a U. S. spy ship named Pueblo was captured on North Korea’s international waters. In April 1969, North Korea fighters shot down a U. S. reconnaissance plane.

There were many more incidents between North and South Korea, throughout the coming years. Immediately after the attempt on the South Korean President’s life, a retaliation to assassinate Kim Il Sung was formulated, but never carried out. In 1972, both Korean nations made an attempt to seek a peaceful reunification, but that idea quickly faltered. In August 1974, another attempt was made on Park Chung Lee’s life, but instead of killing the president, they killed his wife. That same year in November, an infiltration tunnel was discovered that ran across the demilitarized zone into South Korea that was obviously dug by the North Koreans.

In the years 1975, 1978, and 1990, more tunnels were unearthed, and eventually they discovered 17 different infiltration tunnels leading into South Korea. A new economic plan was announced by Kim Il Sung. It gave more authority to prioritize agricultural production using the following resources: land reclamation, development of the country’s infrastructure, and reliance on domestically produced equipment. In the year 1986, a nuclear reactor was commissioned, and thus began North Korea’s nuclear era. With the use of plutonium from the used fuel rods and some enriched uranium, North Korea was able to start their nuclear weapons program.

Evidence then surfaced in 1987 that North Korea was heading for a famine, but that fact was ignored by the regime. In 1988, North Korea was accused of repeated acts of support for international terrorism by James A Baker III, U. S. Secretary of State. Weapons using grade enriched uranium were developed by the country in 1989. Great confusion erupted July 8, 1994 when Supreme Leader Kim Il Sung died. His successor was his son, Kim Jong Il. North Korea’s supposed possession of nuclear and atomic weapons lasted until June 1995. The evidence discovered in 1987 that suspected the happening of a famine eventually became a reality in 1998 and 1999.

The devastating loss of crops overwhelmed the nuclear standoff issue of the 1990s. Crop failures were blamed on the occurrence of two years of flooding and a severe drought the following year. Weather conditions fortified many insects and parasites. Lack of fuel and machinery also lead to ninety percent failure of rice fields. Foreign aid was needed to keep the people from starving in autumn of 1999. The famine began to subside in late 1999. The death toll was up to more than 2 million. Thousands of citizens tried to make an escape to China or South Korea.

This was viewed as criminal as criminal activity, and the government would capture and imprison those that would try to flee the country. In September 1998, North Korea launched a test missile over the mainland of Japan, much to the surprise of the Japanese. After raising suspicions of North Korea, U. S. inspectors were given a pass to investigate a nuclear device development site called Kumchangri. North Korea then saw an opportunity to blackmail the United States into increasing food aid and the start of a potato production program. The on-going inspections led to the first meeting between North and South Korean leaders.

Needless to say, that meeting ended without success. In 2007, North Korea made a deal for 400 million dollars in oil and aid to allow international inspectors access to the country’s facilities. In February, North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear weapons plant in Yongbyon. In April of 2007, Kim Yong Il was named the new Prime Minister by parliament. This drastic move led to another meeting between North and South Korean officials, which then negotiated a deal to move together and agree to sign a treaty that would formally end the Korean Wars. For the first time in sixty years, trains were able to pass between the borders of both Koreas.

Geographical Setting North Korea is located on the peninsula that makes up both Korean nations between China and Japan. Japan is to the east of North Korea while China is to the north and west. North Korea shares land boundaries with only three nations: China, South Korea, and Russia. The Amnokkang (Yalu) and Tumen-gang (Tumen) rivers make up the northern border that separates North Korea from Manchuria. The northern boundary with China is 1416 km long, and the boundary with South Korea is 238 km long. North Korea shares a smaller boundary to the northeast with Russia that is only 19 km long.

The nation has a land area of 47,918 square miles or 120,540 square kilometers (roughly the size of Mississippi). Also, North Korea has 2,495 kilometers worth of shoreline. The climate stays rather temperate year-round. The majority of the rainfall takes place in the hot and humid short summer months. Winters are usually cold, dry, and very long. The land area of North Korea is 80 percent hills and mountains separated by deep narrow valleys with the coastal plains being concentrated on the western side of the country.

Baekdu Mountain is the highest point in North Korea with an elevation of 2744 meters above sea level. 20. 76 % of North Korea’s land is arable. Most of the narrow valleys in between the hills are dedicated to farmland. There is 14,600 square kilometers of irrigated land present in the country. Some of the natural resources of the country include: coal, lead, zinc, tungsten, graphite, iron ore, gold, salt, and copper. City Information and Population Most of the North Korean people are concentrated near the borders and coastlines of the nation due to the interior that is characterized by sparsely populated mountainous regions.

The nation’s capital of Pyongyang, located in the western part of the country, has the largest population of 2. 7 million people. Other substantial cities include: Hamhung, Chongjin, Wonsan, Nampo, and Kaesong. Pyongyang is the only city to possess more than a million inhabitants. All other cities have less than 900,000 people. Environmental Protection The current environmental issues that are being dealt with in North Korea include: localized air pollution, water pollution, inadequate supplies of potable water, and deforestation.

Lack of information is the main deterrent from assessing the amount of damage done to North Korea’s natural environment from urbanization and industrialization. Most of the industry boom happened after the Korean war using generally obsolete technology from the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Air pollution is moderated by an increase in the use and applications of electricity rather than fossil fuels. The critical shortage of petroleum also keeps citizens from owning private automobiles, and restrictions are set in place concerning the use of other gasoline powered vehicles.

A decline in crop yields has been blamed on the rapid deforestation in North Korea since the 1990s. Drought and firewood harvesting have also contributed to the decline in the nation’s forests. Climate North Korea has a temperate climate due to its location between 38 and 43 north latitude. Northwestern winds from Siberia bring snow storms and bitter cold temperatures during the winter. The daily average high and low temperatures in Pyongyang in January are -3 degrees Celsius and -13 degrees Celsius, and the average snowfall during the winter is thirty-seven days.

Summers are hot and rainy because of the southeastern monsoon winds blowing moist air off the Pacific Ocean. 60 percent of precipitation happens from June to September on average. Typhoons affect the Korean peninsula almost every year, which can then lead to flooding. Economic Background North Korea’s economy is one of the last centrally planned economies in the world. The role of market allocation is sharply limited–mainly in the rural sector where peasants sell produce from small private plots. There are almost no small businesses.

In the initial years after the creation of The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) following World War II, North Korea’s centrally planned economy seemed to work fine. The economy achieved considerable success because of the ability of the communist government to control unutilized resources and idle labor and impose a low rate of consumption. In the 1960s economic growth started to slow and continued to decrease throughout the 70s and 80s. The lack of foreign trade was the major factor in the slowing of the economy during these years, as the rest of the world started to globalize more.

In the 1990s the collapse of other communist countries, particularly the Soviet Union, has forced the already struggling North Korean economy to realign its foreign economic relations. Even trade with South Korea began in an attempt to turn the economy around. The early nineties also brought floods and further economic crisis to the economy. The floods, combined with a poor economy, brought a great famine which killed over two million people. Hunger drove workers out of the factories and into the hills and fields in search of food and fuel. People who once relied on the government for support now had to fend for themselves.

Some small aspects of a market economy began to emerge but the economy is still for the most part largely centralized. (Branford, 2008) Population It has been fifteen years since North Korea has conducted a census, and will finally do so in October 2008. (Examiner. com, 2008) The absence of a recent census has lead to partially estimated facts and figures. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, North Korea has had an average growth rate of 0. 83 since 1998; this compared to an average of 0. 91 for the United States. Like the U. S. North Korea’s population has been steadily growing. In 1998 the population of North Korea was 21,454,900.

In 2003 it had grown to 22,466,481, and in 2008 the population was estimated at 23,479,089. Although the growth rate is similar to the U. S. , the population of N. Korea is only about seven percent of the U. S. population. In 1998 the U. S. population totaled 276,115,288; in 2003 it was 290,342,554; and in 2007 it was 301,139,947. Despite North Korea’s high average growth rate over the last ten years, the country had negative rates of -0. 614 and -0. 596 in 1997 and 1998 but had booming rates above 1. 00 from 2000 to 2003. The U. S. maintained a steady rate ranging from 0. 88 to 0. 96 in that time period. (Bureau, 2008)

Gross Domestic Product Unlike the United States, North Korea has not published any reliable National Income Accounts data since the 1960s. The communist government was reluctant to show the rest of the world how bad its economy was struggling from the 1960s all the way up to the present. Hopefully this will change after the October census is conducted. North Korea’s economy has been steadily decreasing since 1960. The GDP per capita in 1960 was $1,947 and in 1991 the South Korean government estimated North Korea’s GNP at $22. 9 billion (U. S. dollars), or $1,038 per capita. In 1996 the GDP was estimated at $22. 9 billion, or $1,053 per capita. However in 2003 North Korea’s economy showed growth for the first time in many decades. The GDP in ’03 was estimated around $27 billion, and $1,328 per capita. The 2007 estimates of GDP are $25. 96 billion and $1,700 per capita.

Until 1988 trade with South Korea was illegal but since then Two-way trade between the two countries has risen to more than $1. 8 billion in 2007. Also in 1988 the trade volume of North Korea had increased until it reached a peak volume of $4. 9 billion, but as the communist Eastern bloc collapsed in 1990 trade volume declined 35% in 1991. The U. S. does not trade with North Korea, although on June 26, 2008, “the Bush administration removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism after Pyongyang (N. Korean leader) submitted a sixty page report on its nuclear program. ”, which allowed the U. S. to trade with N. Korea. Times, 2008)

Today, North Korea’s major trading partners include: China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Russia, Venezuela, Algeria, Lebanon, and South Africa. The major exports of N. Korea are minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products which totaled $1. 466 billion in 2006. The percentage of exports to N. Korea’s major export partners are as follows: China 35%, South Korea 24%, Thailand 9%, Japan 9%, Venezuela 15%, and Brazil 8%. (Times, 2008) Imports and exports have been slowly increasing since 2000 but imports continue to exceed exports creating a trade deficit.

In 1996 N. Korea’s imports totaled $1. 25 billion while exports were only $726 million. The deficit remains true to the present. 2001 yielded $1. 62 billion of exports and $650 million of imports and 2006 yielded $1. 466 billion in exports and $2. 879 billion in imports. A negative trade balance also exists for the U. S as well. In 1996 U. S. exports totaled $851. 6 billion; imports totaled $955. 6 billion. Last year U. S. imports totaled $2. 35 trillion while only exporting $1. 64 trillion. Although U. S. imports and exports largely exceed North Korea’s, both countries have had a growing trade deficit over the last thirty years.

The major imports of North Korea are petroleum, coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, and grain. The major countries that export to North Korea are similar to the importing countries; China, South Korea, Russia, Thailand, Algeria, Thailand, South Arica. (Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics, 2008) Currency The North Korean won, denoted by Koreans Worker’s Party, is the official currency used in North Korea. There is very limited data concerning official exchange rates but some estimates are available. The exchange rate in October 2005 was 0. 45455 which is 2. 2 KWP per dollar.

The next year the rate fell dramatically to 0. 00699 which is 143. 05 KWP per dollar. The rates today are estimated to be about the same, 0. 00699 or 143. 05 KWP per dollar. The drastic change from 2005 to 2008 might be due to the overstatement of the won for the governments own agenda. (Currency. com, 2008) Well being There have been some minor changes going on in North Korea in the last few years. Some small markets are starting to appear on the streets. Leonid Petrov, a North Korea historian at the Australian National University, has visited North Korea in 1999, 2004, and 2005.

He last visited the country in October 2008 where he found some noticeable change. Petrov wrote: “In 1999, even in Pyongyang, people were exhausted, malnourished, feeble… In 2004, the situation was very different – the whole city looked like one big market. There was activity everywhere, on streets, under the bridges, and from the windows of apartments”. (Branford, 2008) This change was brought on not by the government, but by severe flooding and famine. “North Koreans were taught their whole lives that the state would provide… now they have to take care of themselves. (Branford, 2008) The North Korean government has responded in many different ways; one being an attempt to make reforms and harness these changes, and the other implementing further suppression of its people and economy. The fear of losing power has caused the government to light-heartedly try to reform but maintain its grip on the country. The people want change and have shown it by rioting and relinquishing their loyalty to the regime. Park In-ho, who works for Daily NK, said: “It is impossible to resist publicly the regime. The control and suppression are beyond our imagination.

Slaughter… is still being carried out in North Korea. ” (Branford, 2008) The well being of a typical North Korean citizen has gotten better, but people still remain poor and hungry, and now they are feeling even more suppressed by the government. It is the complete opposite of the well being of an American citizen because there is no freedom, food, money, jobs, or luxuries. American households have more than one TV, internet, and more than one car. This is not true in North Korea, as they are considered lucky to have shelter and food to eat. There have been a lot of changes, but they are very patchy – it’s still not a transitional economy” said Mr. Petrov. (Branford, 2008)

The Political and Legal System of North Korea [pic] North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is a highly centralized communist state. It established on September 9, 1948 after liberating from Japan, marking its separation from the Republic of Korea. There are nine provinces, two province-level municipalities, one special city, and 24 cities in it. North Korea, as a socialist country, adopted the political power organization form of the people’s council system and the “sole system state” structure.

All the North Korean government officials belong to the communist Korean Workers’ Party (KWP). North Korea has a centralized government, and it is under the control of KWP. Some small political parties are allowed to exist in name but have no real power. Kim Il-sung was the chairman of North Korea from 1948 until his death in July 1994. Kim served both as Secretary General of the KWP and as President of North Korea. Following the death of Kim Il-sung, his son, Kim Jong Il, inherited supreme power. Kim Jong-Il was named General Secretary of the KWP in October 1997.

In fact, the politics of North Korea take place within a nominally democratic multi-party framework, even though it is widely considered to be a totalitarian dictatorship. We know little about the real level of power and authority in the North Korean government despite the formal structure set forth in the constitution. In September 1998, Kim Jong-il was reconfirmed by the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) as Chairman of the National Defense Commission and declared that position as the “highest office of state. ” North Korea’s political system is built upon the principle of centralization.

While the constitution guarantees protecting the human rights and democratic government, Kim Jong-il, the de-facto leader of the country, dominated most power of the government and the nation. Kim Yong-nam, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, serves as the nominal head of state. North Korea’s 1972 constitution was amended twice in late 1992 and again in September 1998. The amendments still did not change the essence of North Korea’s government. The country’s fifth and current constitution was approved and adopted in September 1998, replacing the one previously adopted in 1972.

The former constitution had last been amended in 1992. Under the new constitution, North Korea has an unusual legal system based upon German civil law and influenced by Japanese legal theory. Criminal penalties can be stiff; one of the basic functions of the system is to uphold the power of the regime. Because so little information is available concerning what actually occurs inside of the country, the extent to which there is any rule of law is uncertain. In any case, North Korea is renowned for its poor human rights situation and regularly detains thousands of dissidents without trial or benefit of legal advice.

North Korea is widely considered a communist state in the Western world, and most of its policies are similar to those of communist regimes before the fall of the Soviet Union. The constitution of North Korea declares that “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea shall, by carrying out a thorough cultural revolution, train all the people to be builders of socialism and communism”. However, the government in North Korea has replaced the Marxism and Leninism in its constitution by the main concept of Juche, or self-reliance, which was developed by Kim Il-sung.

The concept of Juche is that the people are the main power and the hosts in the revolution and construction. Although Marxist-Leninist ideology was the primary doctrine for the early North Korean state, this changed formally in 1972 when Juche philosophy, “a creative application of Marxist-Leninism to our own country’s reality,” was introduced into the constitution. Juche is often translated simply as self-reliance or self-determination, but the concept is essentially a nationalist ideology of “North Korea first. ” In 1992, reference to Marxism-Leninism in the DPRK Constitution was dropped altogether.

North Korea’s judiciary branch is headed by the Central Court, which consists of a Chief Justice and two People’s Assessors; three of these judges may be present in some cases. Their terms of office coincide with those of the members of the Supreme People’s Assembly. Every court in North Korea has the same composition as the Central Court. The judicial system is theoretically held accountable to the SPA and the Presidium of the SPA when the legislature is not in session. The judiciary does not practice judicial review. The security forces often interfere with the actions of the judiciary council.

Therefore, the conclusion of most cases is foregone; experts outside North Korea and numerous defectors confirm this to be a widespread problem. Freedom House states that, “North Korea does not have an independent judiciary and does not acknowledge individual rights… reports of arbitrary detentions, ‘disappearances’, and extrajudicial killings are common; torture is widespread and severe”. The Central People’s Committee (CPC) is the government’s top policymaking body. The CPC or State Administration Council (SAC) makes policy decisions and supervises the cabinet.

The SAC is headed by a Premier and is the dominant administrative and executive agency. Officially, the SPA legislature is the highest organ of state power. Party officials of the SPA Presidium held higher rank than SPA chairmen in the history of this organization. The Constitution demonstrates that the SPA Presidium’s prerogatives are in excess of those of the SPA. The courts are accountable to the SPA Presidium or to the SPA in session. The tri-level court system consists of a Central Court, twelve provincial courts, and approximately 100 people’s courts.

A special court consists of the military court which covers criminal cases under its jurisdiction. Lower courts usually have one judge and two people’s assessors, while appeal courts have three judges. Although regional people’s assemblies elect the judges and people’s assessors, the KWP appoints all appropriate candidates. Today, North Korea still cannot be called a country under the rule of law completely, because North Korea is not a developed country. The legal systems of the nation have many flaws. The lack of the legal laws and regulations is a problem.

Another problem is the laws and regulations are short of practicability, and they cannot catch up with the rest of the world. The entire legal system is very simple and very loose. Such a legal system cannot help North Korea develop. The country tries to complete their laws gradually. It is still very difficult to become an actual rule-of-law country, but now North Korea tends to be more international, so it will continue to complete its legal system. A developed country must be a rule of law country, so if North Korea wants to develop, it must complete its legal system.

Because of the state system, North Korea is almost closed to the world. If it wants to “open the door”, it must adjust to the world and coordinate relationships with other countries. The most important aspect is adjusting its legal system. Now, North Korea is a relatively poor country in the world. Its political and legal system is not complete. There are problems between the relationships of North and South Korea, primarily concerning nuclear weapons in North Korea. The Education and Language of North Korea Education

Education in North Korea is strictly controlled by the government. Formal education has taken a central role in the social and cultural development of contemporary North Korea. The education system is charged with the responsibility of transforming citizens, young and old, male and female, into loyal Communists. The structure of compulsory education North Korea now maintains an eleven-year universal, free, and compulsory school system, followed by a higher [pic]educational system that covers diverse areas of study and varies in the number of years it requires.

The attendance of it is 3 million, and the literacy of the Korean citizens is 99 percent. The graph (Figure 4) on the next page shows the structure of education. Figure 4: In the early 1990s, the compulsory primary and secondary education system was divided into one year of kindergarten, four years of primary school (people’s school) for age six to nine, and six years of senior middle school (secondary school) for ages ten to fifteen). Educational Theme and Methods Political and ideological education are the most important part of socialist education systems.

Only through a proper political and ideological education is it possible to rear students as revolutionaries, equipped with a world outlook and the ideological and moral qualities of a communist. King Il Sung wrote in 1977: “Only on the basis of sound political and ideological education will the people’s scientific and technological education and physical culture be successful. ” As a communist country, politics come first in North Korea’s educational systems. Chuch’e is a central theme in educational policy.

Closely tied to the central theme of chuch’e in education is the “method of heuristic teaching”–a means of developing the independence and creativity of students and a reaction against the traditional Confucian emphasis on role memorization. The Higher Education and Social Education in North Korea There are 4 different types of higher education in North Korea: universities, colleges that instruct in special areas, teacher-training institutions, and colleges established at various industrial, agricultural, and fishery plants where workers can receive their [pic]on-the-job training type education.

Kim Il Sung University is the only academic institution in the country offering a variety of programs comparable to those of Western universities. Figure 5: Kim Il Sung University Kim Il Sung University, founded in October 1946, is the country’s only comprehensive institution of higher education offering bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. Its colleges and faculties include economics, history, philosophy, law, foreign languages and literature, geography, physics, mathematics, chemistry, atomic energy, biology, and computer science.

Outside the formal structure of schools and classrooms is the extremely important “social education. ” This education includes not only extracurricular activities, but also family life and the broadest range of human relationships within society. There is great sensitivity to the influence of the social environment on the growing child and its role in the development of his or her character. According to a North Korean official interviewed in 1990, “School education is not enough to turn the rising generation into men of knowledge, virtue, and physical fitness.

After school, our children have many spare hours, so it’s important to efficiently organize their afterschool education. ” Although North Korean children do not seem to have much time to spend at home, the family’s status as the “basic unit” of society also makes it a focus of social education. According to a North Korean publication, when “homes are made revolutionary,” parents are “frugal . . . courteous, exemplary in social and political life,” and children have proper role models. Language North Korea shares the Korean Language with South Korea.

There are dialect differences within both Koreas, however there is no large linguistic boundary. The adoption of the modern terms from foreign language, which is familiar in South Korea, has been limited in North Korea. However, both Koreas share the phonetic writing system called “Chosongul” in North Korea and “Hangul” south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). According to the research gathered: the official Romanization differs in the two countries, with North Korea using a slightly modified McCune-Reischauer system, and the South using the Revised Romanization of Korean.

There is a consensus among linguists that Korea is a member of the Altaic family of languages, which originated in northern Asia and includes the Mongol, Turkic, Finnish, Hungarian, and Tungusic (Manchu) languages. The cultural background of Korean Language Since the establishment of the Han Chinese colonies in the northern Korean Peninsula 2,000 years ago, Koreans have been under the cultural influence of China. During the period of Japanese domination (1910-1945), the colonial regime attempted to force Koreans to adopt the Japanese language and culture.

Neither the long and pervasive Chinese influence nor the more coercive and short-lived Japanese attempts to make Koreans loyal subjects of the Japanese emperor, succeeded in eradicating their ethnic, cultural, and linguistic uniqueness. The desire of the North Korean regime to preserve its version of Korean culture, including many traditional aspects such as food, dress, art, architecture, and folkways, is motivated in part by the history of the cultural domination by both the Chinese and the Japanese.

Korean Language and Japanese Language Since there are many relationships between Korea and Japan in history, the two languages have strikingly similar grammatical structures. Both Korean and Japanese possess what is sometimes called “polite” or “honorific” language, the use of different levels of speech in addressing persons of superior, inferior, or equal rank. These distinctions depend both on the use of different vocabulary and basic structural differences in the words employed.

The levels of polite language are extremely complex and subtle. Koreans are extremely sensitive to the nuances of hierarchical human relationships, as are Japanese. Two people who meet for the first time are expected to use the more distant or formal terms, but they will shift to more informal or “equal” terms if they become friends. Younger people use formal language in addressing elders; the latter use “inferior” terms in “talking down” to those who are younger.

Although the Chinese and Korean languages are not related in terms of grammatical structure, a large percentage of the Korean vocabulary has been derived from Chinese “loanwords”, and it’s a reflection of China’s long cultural dominance. In many cases, there are two words–a Chinese loanword and an indigenous Korean word–that mean the same thing. The Chinese-based word in Korean often has a bookish or formal nuance. Koreans select one or the other variant to achieve the proper register in speech or in writing and to make subtle distinctions in accordance with proper usage.

The Korean language may be written using a mixture of Chinese characters and a native Korean alphabet known as han’gl, or just plainly written in han’gl itself. Han’gl was invented by scholars at the court of King Sejong (1418-1450), not only to promote literacy among the common people, but also to assist in studies of Chinese historical phonology, as noted by Professor Gari K. Ledyard. The application of the Korean Language The Korean language is spoken by more than 65 million people living on the peninsula and its outlying islands as well as 5. million Koreans living in other parts of the world.

The fact that all Koreans speak and write the same language has been a crucial factor in their strong national identity. Modern Korea has several different dialects including the standard one used in Seoul and central areas, but they are similar enough that speakers/listeners do not have trouble understanding each other. Linguistic and ethnological studies have established that the Korean language belongs to the Ural-Altaic group of Central Asia, which, as stated before, includes Turkish, Hungarian, Finnish, Mongolian and Japanese.

The Policies of the Korean Language According to a South Korean scholar, Kim Il Sung “requested people to use a special, very honorific deference system toward himself and his family” and, in a 1976 publication: Our Party’s Language Policy, rules formulated on the basis of Kim Il Sung’s style of speech and writing were advocated as the norm. An attempt has been made to create new words of exclusively Korean origin. Parents are encouraged to give their children Korean rather than Chinese-type names. Nonetheless, approximately 300 Chinese characters are still taught in North Korean schools.

North Koreans refer to their language as “Cultured Language” (munhwa), which uses the regional dialect of P’yongyang as its standard. Two documents, or “instructions,” by Kim Il Sung, “Some Problems Related to the Development of the Korean Language,” written in 1964, and “On the Development of the National Language: Conversations with Linguists,” published in 1966, define basic policy concerning Cultured Language. Family and Social Organizations Family The family is regarded by North Korean authorities as a “cell,” or the basic unit of society.

A person participates in production in a cooperative, factory, or office and individually earns “work points. ” Although the work points earned by family members goes to the family unit as a whole, the family head–the father or grandfather—is not in charge of the family’s economic life. Both in urban areas and in socialist cooperatives, the size of the family tends to be small–between four and five people and usually no more than two generations, as opposed to the three or more generations found in the traditional “big house. ” Parents often live with their youngest, rather than oldest, son and his wife.

Also, observers discovered that sons are more desired than daughters for the reason of continuing the family name. The eldest son’s wedding is a lavish affair compared with those of his younger brothers. The traditionally oppressive relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law common to East Asian countries seems to have been transformed, however. A South Korean source reported that an overly demanding mother-in-law might be criticized by a local branch of women’s organizations such as the Korean Democratic Women’s Union. The legal age for males to marry is eighteen years, and for females it is seventeen years.

Marrying in one’s late twenties or early thirties is common because of work and military obligations. Late marriage also affects fertility rates. Most marriages seem to be between people in the same rural cooperative or urban area. Traditional arranged marriages have mostly disappeared, in favor of “love matches”; nevertheless, children still seem to seek their parents’ permission before getting married. The taking of secondary wives, a common practice in traditional times, is prohibited. Wedding ceremonies are simple and less costly than in traditional times.

However, they still contain such practices as meetings between families of the bride and groom, gift exchanges, formal letters of proposal, and wedding banquets. Among farming families, weddings usually take place after the fall harvest and before the spring plowing; this is when families have the most resources to invest and the bride can bring her yearly income from work points to her new household. Social Organizations Group Behavior Group behavior in sociology refers to the situations where people interact in large or small groups. The field of group dynamics deals with small groups that may reach consensus and act in a coordinated way.

Group behavior is like people activities. In North Korea, people will have a lot of activities when some important days come, especially the 16th of February (Kim Jong Il’s Birthday). On that day, different kinds of celebration activities are held, and all of the citizens participate. It is an unwritten tradition that North Koreans always send some flowers to be placed in front of Kim Jong Il’s bronze statue during important holidays. Social Classes Although socialism promises a society of equals in which class oppression is eliminated, most evidence shows that great social and political inequality continues to exist in North Korea.

The state is the sole allocator of resources, and inequalities are justified in terms of the state’s political and economic prerogatives. Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are described by unsympathetic foreign observers as “living like kings”. Equally important from the standpoint of social ranking, however, is a small and clearly defined elite within the ruling KWP who have emerged as a “new class” with a relatively high standard of living and access to consumer goods not available to ordinary people. It is said that there are six social classes in North Korea. The first one is the highest power class which includes Kim Song Il.

The second is the power class which lives by earning money from foreign countries. The third is the “host” class who hold the money from trading with China and domestic business. The fourth is the common official class, and they live by the government rationing. Finally, the fifth is the civilian class, followed by the sixth: disability class. The social structures in North Korea has been split apart and reformed due to the problem of rich and poor polarization. Special interest groups have also emerged. Clubs, other Organizations The mass organizations in North Korea are all guided and controlled by the political party.

There are many organizations in North Korea. Many of these organizations were founded in the early years of the KWP to serve as vehicles for the party’s efforts to penetrate a larger cross-section of the population. There are three examples below. The Women’s Union of North Korea: The union was founded in 1945. Now its current shape is a unique organization, which has few or no analogues worldwide. It is essentially a mass organization designed along the lines of the ruling KWP, but with membership of all women who are not members of ‘higher-level’ mass organizations (the Party itself, its youth branch, a trade union or a farmer’s union).

Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League: This is a Korean youth organization, and it is the main youth organization in North Korea. It was founded by Kim Il-sung on January 17, 1946 as the Democratic Youth League of North Korea. It became the youth wing of the Workers Party of North Korea. It was renamed the Democratic Youth League of Korea and in May 1964 renamed as the League of Socialist Working Youth of Korea. It assumed its present name on its 50th anniversary in 1996. North Korea vocational Federation: This was founded in 1945, and the Federation is the organization of working-class people in North Korea.

Now it has about 1,600,000 members. Race, Ethnicity, and Subcultures Koreans are the only race in North Korea. In terms of ethnicity, the population of the Korean Peninsula is one of the worlds most homogeneous. Descended from migratory groups who entered the Korean Peninsula from Siberia, Manchuria, and Inner Asia several thousands of years ago, the Korean people are unique from the neighboring populations of mainland Asia and Japan in terms of ethnicity, culture, and language, even though there are many similarities in cultural aspects.

Koreans tend to view nationality or citizenship with membership in a single, homogeneous ethnic group. A common language and culture are also important elements in Korean identity. North Korea is in the culture circle of Northeast Asia. Confucianism was basically the mainstream culture in early North Korea. Even now, it still has great influence. North Korea is a country where a single race shares the same language and customs even in different areas across the nation. North Koreans relatively have the same cultural background, so it is difficult for any subcultures to emerge in this country.

There have been recent changes in food and dress with the development of the economy but it is all a branch off of mainstream Korean culture. Perhaps a more definitive subculture will appear in North Korea when the economy and culture develop further. Religion Orthodox Doctrines and Structures The idea that everything and everyone was created by a God is viewed as farfetched in North Korea. In fact two out of ten Koreans do not believe in a God. (Ki-tae, 2005) Buddhism was once the dominant religion during the late traditional times in the Kory Dynasty (918-1392) but has since faded.

Today the Juche Idea is the official ideology or religion of North Korea. Kim II-Sung introduced Juche ideology to North Koreans in the early 1950s and his successor Kim Jong-Il replaced Marxism-Leninism ideology by making Juche the official state ideology in the 1992 revised constitution. (Kim, 1998) At first its promoters describe Juche as “Simply a secular, ethical philosophy and not a religion,” but from a sociological viewpoint, “Juche is clearly a religion, and in many ways is even more religious than Soviet-era Communism or Chinese Maoism. (Ki-tae, 2005) Today Juche is believed to have around 19 million followers and ranks 10th in the world’s major religions in terms of the number of believers. (Ki-tae, 2005)

It is different from other religions in that followers do not believe in God, rather it centers on man. It states “Man is the master of everything and decides everything. ” (Kim, 1998) The Juche idea also speaks of man evolving from nature as a creative social being with conciseness and that he exists by changing the world to make it serve him, while all other things exist through their subordination and adaptation to the world.

Kim Jong-Il’s interpretation and application of the Juche idea in sate policy entails the following four ideas: 1. The people must have independence (chajusong) in thought and politics, economic self-sufficiency, and self-reliance in defense. 2. Policy must reflect the will and aspirations of the masses and employ them fully in revolution and construction. 3. Methods of revolution and construction must be suitable to the situation of the nation. 4. The most important work of revolution and construction is molding people as communists and mobilizing them to constructive action.

As you can see the line between religion, philosophy, and cult is very thin, but Juche is recognized as a religion by most. (Kim, 1998) Prominent religions and their memberships The Religious Freedom Report of 2003 estimated that there were about 10,000 Protestants, 10,000 Buddhists, and 4,000 Catholics in North Korea. There are also a very small percentage of North Koreans that follow Ch’ndogyo. Ch’ndogyo was a religion formed during the mid and late nineteenth century. “Ch’ndogyo contains elements of shamanism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Catholicism. (Savada, 1993)

The rest of the people are followers of the Juche ideas or have no religion at all. Atheism is common among North Koreans as it is in many communist countries. There are an estimated 300 Buddhist temples in the country but most are considered cultural relics and little religious activities are permitted within them. However, there has been a recent Buddhist revival in North Korea. An academy for Buddhist studies has been built and the publication of a twenty-five-volume ranslation of the Korean Tripitaka, or Buddhist scriptures, has been made. (Savada, 1993)

There are two major protestant churches: the Pongsu and Chilgok churches. The Pongsu church is dedicated to the memory of former leader Kim Il Sung’s mother, who was a deacon at the church. The only major Catholic church is the Changchung Roman Catholic church, and it has been open since 1988 in Pyongyang. There were once over 300,000 Christian converts back in the late 1800s but since the rise of the communist government, those numbers have declined to about 14,000.

Although most of the people who attend these Christian churches are foreigners, there are reports of some older citizens who were believers before the early 1950s and have maintained their belief in secret while attending underground churches. ( U. S. State Departmant, 2003) Relationship with People “Freedom of religious belief” is in the North Korean constitution but in reality the government discourages any organized religious activity except those that are supervised or sanctioned by the government itself. The government of North Korea does not consider Juche a religion but it condones the ideology to its citizens.

True religious freedom does not exist here. Christian believers have it the worst as North Korean children are brought up to hate Americans and their beliefs. ” The Government deals harshly with all opponents, including those engaging in religious practices deemed unacceptable to the regime. Religious and human rights groups outside of the country have provided numerous, usually unconfirmed, reports that members of underground churches have been beaten, arrested, tortured, or killed because of their religious beliefs. ” ( U. S.

State Departmant, 2003) Some people think that there are in fact no genuine religious practitioners in North Korea, and that the people that do practice religion are there to facilitate foreign aid or for purposes of international propaganda. This is not uncommon action by a communist government. Little is known about the attitudes of North Korean citizens toward religious persecution except for the words of defectors. Almost all of the defectors will say that people’s religious beliefs are heavily regulated and people are severely punished for defying the regime. U. S. State Departmant, 2003.

The Kim Cult The Kim Cult in North Korea can be defined as a personality cult. A cult of personality is a political institution in which a country’s leader uses mass media Mass media Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and de… to create a larger-than-life public image through unquestioning flattery and praise. The term often refers as well to leaders who did not use such methods during their lifetime, but are built up in the mass media by later governments.

It started as a hero cult based upon the anti-Japanese exploits of Kim Il-sung and was later passed to his son Kim Jong-il. Over time it has evolved into a personality cult. North Korean children are brought up to believe the Juche ideology and are taught that everything they have is from Kim Jong-Il. In school, students read war stories about Kim, in math they learn to count by counting the number of Americans killed in the Korean war, in history they study the communist revolution, in music they sing Kim’s marching songs and in drama they reenact his life story.

They are taught that Kim’s way is the only way, and are taught to consider Americans as the enemy. “Education in the form of communist indoctrination and the study of Kim Il Sung is the primary method of social control. ” (Richardson, 2006) Essentially North Korea is a country full of brainwashed people ignorant to the outside world. This is how Kim has managed to stay in power and keep the communist government intact. Aesthetics Visual Arts As is everything else in North Korea, the government controls what artists can create.

North Korean artists have created their own socialist realism style of art. The style has a strong connection with the socialist propaganda and revolutionary ideology. This socialist art is a part of everyday life for North Koreans as it can be seen mainly in the form of posters in schools, cinemas, office buildings, or on the streets. The mediums vary from oil paint on canvas, poster paint on paper, woodblock, to traditional Korean ink wash with water color. A new method of illuminated plastic paintings is replacing the old hand painted billboards as well.

All the socialist realism art reflects the greatness of the country as well as Kim Il Sung, who said: “Our arts must be truly popular ones that respond to the sentiments of our people; they must be revolutionary ones that serve the interests of the Party and the revolution. ” (Pyongyang Art Studio , 2004) Some of the socialist art is quite prejudice against western countries, particularly the United States. They depict the U. S. as an evil enemy of the state and a part of everyday North Korean life.

It is the same with literature. Most novels depict the greatness of Kim Il Sung or tell great stories of how the Americans were defeated in the Korean War. Motion pictures are the most powerful medium to educate the masses and are also used in the social education of North Koreans. According to a Korean source: “films for children contribute to the formation of the rising generation, with a view to creating a new kind of man, harmoniously evolved and equipped with well-founded knowledge and a sound mind in a sound body. ”

When conducting business in North Korea in person, there are several behavioral facts one should remember when meeting with Korean business representatives. Most clothing in the work environment is conservative and women should avoid short skirts or sleeveless tops. One should arrive before the meeting is scheduled to begin out of a show of respect. However, do not be offended if the Korean business people arrive to the meeting later than expected. North Korea has terrible traffic problems. The older higher ranking employees are introduced first, and then the younger workers after that.

It is customary to shake hands and lightly bow when meeting people. When shaking a higher ranking participant’s hand, the left hand can support the right arm to show respect to the senior member. Personal ties such as family and friendships take precedence over actual business status. Relationships are incredibly important in North Korea when doing business. They are even more important than rank and job seniority and dictate structure and organization in Korean companies. Also, Koreans have great respect for anyone in the company who is older and follows the teachings of Confucianism.

Business hierarchy is influenced by age and social status, as well. Gift giving is common-place in North Korean business affairs. Gifts from other countries are respected and viewed with admiration regardless of price. Both hands must be placed on the gift when giving and receiving. Personal questions are asked during the meeting and should not be viewed as intrusive or inappropriate. The North Koreans simply want to know more about one’s marital status, education, and age to determine social standing and reputation in relation to business transactions. Surnames and formal titles should be used when addressing someone.

Never use just the informal first names in front of their business people or colleagues. Business cards are important to exchange. It provides a formal written exchange for each person conducting the business. The cards must be accepted with both hands and then read and studied with respect before placing it into a briefcase or cardholder. Also, business cards should have the information translated and printed in the Korean language somewhere on the card.

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Cultural Analysis of North Korea. (2018, Feb 08). Retrieved from

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