Socialism and Democracy in the DPRK

The DPRK is continuously cast as a villain in international politics. The “hermit kingdom” is painted as tyrannical, repressive, and dynastic. In this essay, I want to argue the opposite: North Korea is a deeply democratic country, and this is reflective of its socialist values.

Contrary to popular belief, elections do in fact take place in the DPRK. Bourgeois media, such as AJ English, admit this. However, they portray the elections in an incredibly dishonest way. One report alleged that the elections consist only of a yes/no vote on a single candidate selected by the party, carried out in view of the public and with the no vote requiring an accompanying written explanation [1]. This is at best half-true and at worst entirely fabricated. Here, I will argue that the DPRK is democratic, and its elections are one reason why this is the case.

Before we proceed, however, we must provide for ourselves a working definition of what democracy actually is. It is my opinion that we ought to return to the word itself. Demos means people, while -Krata is used to mean rule. Democracy, therefore, must mean rule by the people. This is how the website defines the term. They write that democracy is, “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system” [2]. A democracy is a society in which the majority of the people has the ability to make decisions about their political and social life. My use of the dictionary here is not meant to imply that dictionaries are the supreme authority on definitions. I make use of it simply to avoid accusations that my definition of democracy is ideological. I have not invented a definition of democracy that includes the DPRK because I want to force you to consider it democratic. I have taken a mainstream source whose political agenda is the polar opposite of mine.

The DPRK has county, city, and provincial elections to the local people’s assemblies, as well as national elections to the Supreme People’s Assembly, their legislature. These are carried out every five years.

Candidates are chosen in mass meetings held under the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, which also organizes the political parties in the DPRK. Citizens run under these parties or they can run as independents. They are chosen by the people, not by the “party” (in fact, the parliament in the DPRK consists of three separate parties as of last election, the Workers Party of Korea, the Korean Social Democratic Party, and the Chondoist Chongu Party) [3].

The fact that there is only one candidate on the ballot is because there has already been a consensus reached on who should be up for nomination for that position, by the people in their mass meetings. This is a truly democratic arrangement, as it places power directly in the hands of the people rather than in the hands of wealthy “representatives” who have no idea how the majority actually live. According to one report, the median income of a member of the United States congress is 14 times that of the average citizen [4]. It is simply impossible for them to understand the struggle of the masses. In the DPRK, by contrast, the masses advocate for themselves directly. They understand their own interests and are able to advance them openly. This is what real democracy entails.

The DPRK does in fact allow foreign observers of their election. People vote in a separate room from anyone else and are afforded privacy. The mass meetings require input from the popular masses, so they are not secret, nor should they be, since this would impede the democratic process and make it more difficult for the deputies to directly address the needs and demands of the people. They are more than votes and ballots, they are meetings where the people are given a voice and the power to impact their political system in a meaningful way.

The Central Electoral Committee is composed of several members of the SPA, WPK, and Presidium. It is formed by a vote of the Presidium. The DPRK displays extensive political stability and I know of no instances of the candidates chosen by the people being rebuked by any part of the democratic process.The elections are effectively a fail-safe against any corruption of the democratic process that occurs during the mass meetings. The results are therefore expected to show overwhelming support because a no-vote indicates the mass meetings failed to reach a consensus with popular support [5].

Here, we see the profound difference in DPRK elections and American elections. American elections are designed merely to give the illusion of popular participation in government. Citizens are given a choice, effectively, between two candidates who both represent the interests of big business. It is virtually impossible to break out of the two-party system, unless one is independently wealthy. Ross Perot, for example, was only able to run against billionaires because of his status as a billionaire [6]. He was only able to break out of the two-party system imposed by corporate capitalism because he himself embodied corporate capitalism. Time and again, we see that it is the candidate with the most money who wins elections in the United States [7]. In the making of policy, it is monied interest groups who get what they want, not ordinary working class people [8]. Despite the veneer of democracy that the US has adopted, it is in fact a dictatorship of the capitalist class. There is no genuine alternative to the interests of capital (which are in reality the interests of a minority of business owners), and thus no real democracy.

In the DPRK, however, democracy flourishes. As we have seen, they are designed with the explicit goal to empower the popular masses. The no-vote is a direct result of this.It is not evidence of the monopolization of power into the hands of the Party but rather evidence of the power of the people. No-votes arise when the discussions of the masses become too contentious. In a certain sense, the masses sometimes have too much power. The elections exist to mediate this and come to truly democratic conclusions, where the will of the majority is enacted. The elections are not a barrier to democracy, but rather an expression of it.

Citizens in capitalist countries are typically only made aware of one aspect of the election process in the DPRK. They are led to believe that only one candidate ever appears on the ballot, and this is used to paint the DPRK as dictatorial. The same method of selective reporting could be used to misrepresent Western ‘democratic’ systems. If the media only covered the electoral college during an American election, for example, they could easily assert that just 538 Americans were allowed to vote for president. This reveals the importance of rigorous research regarding the DPRK. While there may be elements of truth to Western reporting on the DPRK, they never reveal the whole picture. It is vital that we strike out on our own and refuse to trust the bourgeois media in the United States.

Elections, though, are not the only marker by which democracy is determined. The United States has elections, but I have just argued that it is undemocratic. This must mean that arenas beyond parliament (or similar bodies) also play a role in determining whether or not a country is democratic. In my view, an important area to consider when talking about democracy is the economy. It is the economy which determines whether or not we stay alive, let alone what political forms we adopt. It would be virtually impossible to spend a day theorizing about politics if one had to worry about whether or not one would eat that night. As such, the question of who controls the economy is an important one. If a small minority of individuals controls the economy, then it follows that the same group has the final say in the politics, art, and culture of a particular society. This can be seen in the United States. A minority of the population is made up of wealthy business owners, who exercise a huge amount of control over policy. They only hold this political power because they have money. It is therefore the case that the primary center of power in society is the economy. Societies can only be considered democratic if the masses of people manage the economy as well as the political sphere.

This is obviously not the case under capitalism, but is it the case in the DPRK? I would argue that this is the case. Workplaces in the DPRK are managed according to the Tean Work System, which is described this way by Country Data:

The highest managerial authority under the Taean system is the party committee. Each committee consists of approximately twenty-five to thirty-five members elected from the ranks of managers, workers, engineers, and the leadership of working people’s organizations at the factory. A smaller “executive committee,” about one-fourth the size of the regular committee, has practical responsibility for day-to-day plant operations and major factory decisions. The most important staff members, including the party committee secretary, factory manager, and chief engineer, make up its membership. The system focuses on cooperation among workers, technicians, and party functionaries at the factory level [9].

This system has persisted long in the DPRK. In his New Year’s address at the thirtieth anniversary of the Taean Work System, Kim Il-Sung said:

[The] Taean work system is the best system of economic management. It enables the producer masses to fulfill their responsibility and role as masters and to manage the economy in a scientific and rational manner by implementing the mass line in economic management, and by combining party leadership organically with administrative, economic, and technical guidance [10].

The DPRK’s economy is a dual state-owned/cooperative economy, with workers in the latter constitutionally entitled to ownership of their workplaces. According to the Constitution of the DPRK:

Article 22

The property of social cooperative organizations belongs to the collective property of working people within the organizations concerned.

Social cooperative organizations can possess such property as land, agricultural machinery, ships, medium-small sized factories and enterprises.

The State shall protect the property of social cooperative organizations [11].

The Korean revolution gave opportunities to workers and landless poor peasants that were unimaginable under the past oppressive conditions. Korea expert Bruce Cumings writes, “At any time before 1945, it was virtually inconceivable for uneducated poor peasants to become country-level officials or officers in the army. But in North Korea such careers became normal.” [12]. He also notes that inter-class marriages became normal, common, and widespread with the establishment of Democratic Korea, and educational access opened up for all sectors of society.

Arguably the most important part of the economy is land ownership. Prior to the revolution, land was concentrated in the hands of an astonishingly small Japanese elite. The Worker’s Party undertook a gradual but steady process of converting private land ownership into cooperative organizations. Beginning with the process of post-war reconstruction in 1953, only 1.2% of peasant households were organized as cooperatives, which encompassed a mere .6% of total acreage. [13]. By August of 1958, 100% of peasant households were converted into cooperatives, encompassing 100% of total acreage. [14]. Ellen Brun, an economist whose 1976 Socialist Korea study remains the most comprehensive to date, writes that “In spite of lack of modern means of production, the cooperatives – with efficient assistance by the state – very early showed their superiority to individual farming, eventually convincing formerly reluctant farmers into participating in the movement” [15]. Collectivization was not forced from above, but rather an expression of the will of the masses. It was-and remains-a democratic action.

Local people’s committees, in which any Korean worker could participate, elected leadership to guide agricultural production and collaborated with national authorities to coordinate nation-wide efficiency [16]. These people’s committees were the primary means by which “the Party remains in contact with the masses on the various collective farms, thus enabling it to gauge public opinion on issues affecting the policies of the country people’s committee” [17]. In 1966, the Worker’s Party introduced the “group management system,” which “organized groups of ten to twenty-five farmers into production units, each of which was then put permanently in charge of a certain area of land, a certain task, or a certain instrument of production” [18]. This represents another instrument of people’s democracy implemented in Korean socialist production.

No serious antagonism between the countryside and industrial centers developed in the process of socialist construction in Democratic Korea. Brun notes that “tens of thousands of demobiilized men and many junior and senior graduates as well as middle school pupils went to the countryside in the busy seasons and rendered assistance amounting to millions of days of work,” all voluntarily and without coercion by the state [19].

Most importantly, Korean socialist construction reorganized industrial production by and in the interests of the formerly dispossessed Korean proletariat. Drawing on the mass line – the Marxist-Leninist organizing method that “is both the cause and effect of the politicization and involvement of the masses in the process of economic development and socialist construction” – the WPK implemented the Taean work system, described above, in December 1961 [20]. In contrast to the past system, in which managers were appointed to oversee a workplace unilaterally by a single party member, “The Party factory committee assumes the highest authority at the level of the enterprise” in the Taean work system [20]. Brun further describes this system, and I will quote her at length:

“Ways of solving questions affecting production and workers’ activities, as well as methods of carrying out decisions, are arrived at through collective discussions within the factory committee, whose members are elected by the factory’s Party members. To be effective this committee has to be relatively small, its precise numbers depending on the size of the enterprise. At the Daean Electrical Plant, with a labor force of 5,000, the Party factory committee is made up of 35 members who meet once or twice a month, while the 9 members of the executive board keep in continuous contact. Sixty percent of its members are production workers, with the remainder representing a cross-section of all factory activities, including functionaries, managers, deputy-managers, engineers, technicians, women’s league representatives, youth league members, trade union members, and office employees. Its composition thus gives it access to all socioeconomic aspects of the enterprise and the lives of its worker.

This committee has become what is called the ‘steering wheel’ of the industrial unit, conducting ideological education and mobilizing the workers to implement collective decisions and to fulfill the production target. Through its connection to the Party it has a clear picture of overall policies and aims as well as the exact function of individual enterprise in the national context. In other words, this setup ensures that politics are given priority” [21].

Workers have input and supremacy in production and interact dialectically with the state to plan and carry out collectivist production on behalf of the whole Korean people. The fact that the economy is managed, often directly, by the whole of society is evidence that the country is a democratic one. Workers are not trapped in top-down workplaces to be ordered around, as are workers in the United States, but rather have a say over what is produced and how it is done. The people have a say over the economy, and thus a say in all other aspects of life. This, as I have argued, means that the country is vastly more democratic than all capitalist countries, even the most advanced.

Many allege that the firm establishment of ‘Songun’ politics; a policy the Worker’s Party of Korea describes as “giving precedence to arms and the military” [22] nullifies the aforementioned democratic gains. I would like to assert that this is not the case. Despite Western insistence to the novelty of Songun politics, the official history of the DPRK points to the development of Songun decades before the DPRK was even formed. This is important to note because it highlights how an anti-imperialist and essentially national liberation struggle has tempered the politics of socialist Korea from the very beginning [23]. Regardless, the collapse of the Soviet Union did bring qualitative changes to the political structure of the DPRK. Notably, the National Defence Commission has become the “backbone organ in the state administrative organ” and “commands all the work of the politics, military and economy”. This can largely be attributed to the unique position the DPRK assumed following its de facto isolation internationally in the mid 1990′s. The fall of the Soviet Union meant deep economic austerity, moreover, it meant an emboldened US and comprador south. This meant the DPRK was forced to pursue a deeply militaristic road of development (hence, the superiority of the National Defence Commission and wide dissemination of Songun politics) [24]. Ultimately what we see emerge from this 1990′s transformation is a unique worker’s state conditioned by the intense contradictions between its socialist construction and the ever present threat of imperialist intervention. Unique not only in its precarious historical predicament but also in the related development of its internal contradictions which no doubt assume an intensely dialectical relationship with parallel external contradictions.

In light of these contradictions, we must examine the organs of class power in the DPRK; namely the state organs and their relationship with the broader Korean people. Clearly, the state organs of the DPRK exercise supreme authority over the economy and social life. The state, constitutionally, represents the interests of the working people and thus has legally excluded exploiters and oppressors from formal representation:

The social system of the DPRK is a people-centered system under which the working peoples are masters of everything, and everything in society serves the working peoples. The State shall defend and protect the interests of the workers, peasants, and working intellectuals who have been freed from exploitation and oppression and become masters of the State and society. [25]

Therefore the political organs of class power have taken become explicitly proletarian organs of class power; at least in the sense that is provided constitutionally to the Korean people. The guiding political force in the DPRK remains the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK) which holds 601/687 seats in the Supreme People’s Assembly and the de facto leading party in the ruling coalition Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland [26]. All Koreans over the age of 17 irrespective of race, religion, sex, creed etc. are able and encouraged to participate in the organs of state power. Elections are routinely held for local and central organs of state power being usually People’s Assemblies which comprise the core of state power in the DPRK; from which come the ‘standing’ organs of class power being institutionally the National Defence Commission and the Korean People’s Army (KPA) [27].

As mentioned earlier, the road of Songun has meant material developments in the social realities which comprise what the West considers North Korea. The large emphasis on military advancement and might has only assisted the imperialist detractors in their description of the DPRK as a ‘military dictatorship.’ This is at best a surface-level analysis. It is considered the highest honor for a Korean to serve their Fatherland in the struggle against imperialism by joining the Korean People’s Army. Unlike other standing military forces, the KPA is definitively involved in the social as well as material construction of socialism in north Korea. Understanding this helps us understand how the unique internal developments of socialist Korea created an equally unique expression of class power.

The people are also closely connected to the leaders of the DPRK, the Party cadres.The Party cadres are an inescapable feature of north Korean political apparatus and are therefore possibly the closest link the Korean people have to their formal organs of power. Cadres as well as Party officials and administrators are known to visit workplaces and provide motivation as well as guidance to the working people [28]. This is in sharp contrast to the relationship between capitalist politicians and citizens. In the capitalist countries, politicians are far removed from the people and have no idea what their struggles are like. In the DPRK, the opposite is true.

Because the working class is the vast majority of the population of the DPRK (roughly seventy percent [29]), the management of the state by the working class means that the state is managed by the majority of the people. This is consistent with the definition of democracy proposed earlier.

It is often claimed that none of this matters because north Koreans are forced to engage in hard labor for their crimes. The state keeps 200,000 political prisoners, according to Amnesty International. It is the same state that shot dead three North Korean citizens who were trying to cross the border into China in late December” [30].

A more nuanced appraisal of the Korean prison system in the north ironically comes from bourgeois liberal historian Bruce Cumings. In his 2004 book, North Korea: Another Country, he notes that most claims about the Korean penal system are grossly exaggerated. For instance, he writes that “Common criminals who commit minor felonies and small fry with an incorrect grasp on their place in the family state who commit low-level political offenses go off to labor camps or mines for hard work and varying lengths of incarceration,” the goal of which is to “reeducate them” [31]. This reflects a materialist understanding of the roots of crime, arising in large part from a person’s material conditions and incorrect ideas, which can change through altering a person’s conditions. It’s important to note that the vast majority of criminals in the Korean penal system fall into this category and thus the aim is to rehabilitate and reeducate, as opposed to the punitive aims of the American penal system.

Cumings notes the contrast between Democratic Korea’s criminal justice system and that of the United States, especially in terms of a prisoner’s contact with and support from their family. He writes:

The Aquariums of Pyongyang is an interesting and believable story, precisely because it does not, on the whole, make for the ghastly tale of totalitarian repression that its original publishers in France meant it to be; instead, it suggests that a decade’s incarceration with one’s immediate family was survivable and not necessarily an obstacle to entering the elite status of residence in Pyongyang and entrance to college. Meanwhile we have a long-standing, never-ending gulag full of black men in our prisons, incarcerating upward of 25 percent of all black youths” [32]

It should also be noted that the only north Korean ever to escape from a prison camp, Shin Dong-hyuk, recanted large parts of his story from Escape from Camp 14. According to a New York Times article on the subject,

“Mr. Shin, who gives his age as 32, now says that the key fact that set him apart from other defectors — that he and his family had been incarcerated at a prison that no one expected to leave alive — was only partly true, and that he actually served most of his time in the less brutal Camp 18. He also said that the torture he endured as a teenager, instead happened years later and was meted out for very different reasons” [33].

Similarly, the revelation that chemical weapons are used on prisoners in Camp 22 has since been proven spurious. The story was first invented in the 2004 BBC documentary Access to Evil. The documentary featured several interviews with Kwon Hyok, a DPRK defector and former head of security at the camp. The documentary’s evidence for this claim was also based on a “Letter of Transfer” supposedly authorizing human experimentation. These claims, however, we entirely manufactured. Even intelligence agencies in south Korea quickly ruled that the documents were forgeries. They write,

First, it was revealed that Kwon had not been military attache in Beijing as claimed. Next, attention was focused on the Letter of Transfer…there were problems with nomenclature, size of seals, and type of paper.

Joseph Koehler…a virulent critic of the North…came to the conclusion that the document looks like a fake” [34].

While this is not evidence that every claim by defectors is spurious, this does call into question the validity of the story. It is not a surprise that defectors would exaggerate their stories, given that, “South Korea said on Sunday that it would quadruple the cash reward it provides for North Korean defectors arriving with important information to 1 billion won, or $860,000, in an effort to encourage more elite members from the North to flee” [35]. North Korean defectors are not simply persecuted individuals seeking a better life. They have a direct economic incentive to lie about the country. It is important, as I said above, to verify each story independently rather than blindly trusting them.

The fact that time in the Korean penal system does not result in social castigation like it does in capitalist countries reflects a stark point of contrast with capitalist penal systems. Using one’s family as a support network, the state encourages political reeducation and opens opportunities for rehabilitated prisoners to re-enter Korean society as full citizens. The prison system in north Korea is far more humane, on principle, than the system in the United States. It is based on a people-centered philosophy which holds that criminality is not innate to humanity. This is strong evidence that the DPRK is a state of the majority, and thus democratic.

The suppression of religion in the DPRK-a favorite chestnut of the right-is also vastly overstated. In article by Dae Young Ryu, ‘Fresh Wineskins for New Wine: A New Perspective on North Korean Christianity’ [36]  begins by noting a new openness of Christianity in the 1980s, with new churches built, a strengthened Protestant theological college in Pyongyang, and an increase in worshippers, now put at about 12,000.

Although the government itself constructed new churches during this period, Ryu claims that this is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, it goes back to Christians of the 1950s who adopted Marxism-Leninism and supported the leadership of Kim Il-sung. This development is even more remarkable, since it took place in a context where Christianity was widely viewed as an imperialist, American phenomenon. Indeed, evidence indicates that the government tolerated about 200 pro-communist Christian churches during the 1960s. He writes:

Contrary to the common western view, it appears that North Korean leaders exhibited toleration to Christians who were supportive of Kim II Sung and his version of socialism. Presbyterian minister Gang Ryang Uk served as vice president of the DPRK from 1972 until his death in 1982, and Kim Chang Jun, an ordained Methodist minister, became vice chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly. They were buried in the exalted Patriots’ Cemetery, and many other church leaders received national honors and medals. It appears that the government allowed the house churches in recognition of Christians’ contribution to the building of the socialist nation [37].

I would like to conclude with an examination of Kim Il Sung and the supposed “cult of personality” surrounding him. The mass grief surrounding his funeral is taken as evidence that he is worshipped as a god in the DPRK. In reality, this grief stemmed from the immense popular support he enjoyed as a leader, during and after the revolution.

Kim scorned Korea’s inability to resist foreign domination. The Japanese regarded him as a highly able and dangerous guerilla leader, going so far as to establish a special anti-Kim insurgency unit to hunt him down [36]. The guerillas were an independent force, inspired by a desire to reclaim the Korean peninsula for Koreans, and were controlled by neither the Soviets nor Chinese. While they often retreated across the border into the Soviet Union to evade Japanese counter-insurgency forces, they received little material help from the Soviets.

Unlike the US, which imposed a military government and repressed the People’s Committees, the Soviets took a fairly hands-off approach to their occupation zone, allowing a coalition of nationalist and communist resistance fighters to run their own show. Within seven months, the first central government was formed, based on an interim People’s Committee led by Kim Il-sung.

Contrary to popular mythology, Kim wasn’t handpicked by the Soviets. He enjoyed considerable prestige and support as a result of his years as a guerilla leader and his commitment to national liberation. In fact, the Soviets never completely trusted him [38].

Eight months into the occupation, a program of land reform was begun, with landlords dispossessed of their land without compensation, but free to migrate to the south or work plots of size equal to those allocated to peasants. After a year, Kim’s Workers Party became the dominant political force. Major industries, most owned by the Japanese, were nationalized. Japanese collaborators were purged from official positions.

Citizens of the DPRK support Kim Il-sung because of his courageous defiance of U.S. domination, his commitment to the reunification and the real accomplishments of socialism. In the face of those who wage war for exploitation and oppression, Kim’s decisions represented the aspirations of Korean workers, peasants, women and children – the united Korean nation – for freedom. Kim’s support was not derived from a cult of personality or taken by force. On the contrary, he earned the support of his people in struggle.

Indeed, there were no mechanisms by which to force the Korean people to support Kim Il-Sung during his rule. Lankov writes, “North Koreans in the Kim Il-Sung era were not brainwashed automatons whose favorite pastime was goose-stepping….nor were they closet dissenters….neither were they docile slaves who sheepishly followed any order from above” [39]. Kim Il-sung’s DPRK was not a police state, but rather a democratic and socialist country waging a valiant war against imperialism. The Korean people were-and continue to be-unified in struggle and support their leaders on this basis.

A survey of defectors estimates that more than half of the country they left behind approves of the job leader Kim Jong Un is doing. Seoul’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, as reported by Yonhap news agency, asked 133 defectors to hazard a guess as to Kim’s actual approval rating in the country, which at least publicly buys into the absolute cult of personality surrounding its leadership. Just over 60 percent said they think most of the country is behind him. In a similar survey in 2011, only 55 percent believed Kim’s father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, had the support of the majority of the country.

As the BBC writes:

“Experts put Kim Jong-un’s popularity down to efforts improve everyday citizens’ lives, with an emphasis on economic growth, light industries and farming in a country where most are believed to be short of food, Yonhap says. There are no opinion polls in the closed communist state, where — outwardly at least — the leader enjoys full and boisterous support. Though not directly comparable, the perceived approval rating outshines those of Western leaders. A recent McClatchy poll suggested only 41% of Americans back President Barack Obama’s performance, while UK Prime Minister David Cameron scored 38% in a recent YouGov poll” [40].

The Wall Street Journal, quoting the poll, says more than 81 percent of the defectors said people were getting three meals a day, up from 75 percent of the previous batch surveyed.

“It points to a successful consolidation of power for the young leader, who took over with the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011. That seemed uncertain a year ago, at least based on the institute’s previous report on defector interviews. Speaking then with 122 people who had fled North Korea between January 2011 and May 2012, it found that 58% were unhappy with the choice of the young Mr. Kim as successor. (Of course, people who flee the country may tend to be more dissatisfied with it than people who remain.)

“The new leader seems to be tightening his grip, with 45% saying society is tightly under control, up from 36% in the previous report. Anti-regime leaflets and graffiti are a bit less common (but maybe that’s the high approval rating at work): 66% of the latest group said they’d seen such things, down from 73% in the 2012 survey and 70% in 2011. Travel to other parts of the country has become more difficult. The percentage who reported having done so, after rising for five consecutive years—to 70% among the defectors interviewed in 2012, from 56% among those interviewed in 2008 — retreated to 64%” [41].

Bourgeois media continues to portray the DPRK as a totalitarian nightmare, populated exclusively by a pacified and frightened citizenry. As I have shown, this is far from the case. The north Korean people have a far greater say in how their lives are structured than do citizens of even the most “democratic” capitalist countries. They are not forced to adhere to a Party Line handed down from on high, but rather are encouraged to participate in the running of society. The DPRK is an excellent example of socialism, which is focused on developing the working class-and humanity-to its full potential. It is only through socialism that we can realize our collective dream of a free and prosperous society. The DPRK is marching towards this dream, even in the face of unparalleled imperialist aggression. It is partly on this basis that we should pledge solidarity with the country. To reiterate the point I made in my last post, however, the DPRK should be supported regardless of whether it is itself socialist. It is standing against imperialism, which is the greatest enemy of socialism. Indirectly or directly, the DPRK works in the interests of socialism.

Hands off DPRK!

  10. Ibid.
  12. Bruce Cumings, North Korea: Another Country, The New Press, New York, 2004.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ellen Brun, Jacques Hersh, Socialist Korea: A Case Study in the Strategy of Economic Development, 1976, Monthly Review Press, New York and London
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Suh, Jae-Jean. 2004. The Transformation of Class Structure and Class Conflict in North Korea. International Journal of Korean Reunification Studies. p. 55 content/uploads/2007/07/transformation%20of%20class%20structure.pdf
  22. Ibid. p. 56
  23. Ibid. p. 57
  24. Ibid.
  25. 10th Supreme People’s Assembly. Constitution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Article 8.
  26. ]
  27. Korea-DPR. 2013.
  28. Journal of Asian and African Studies. 2013. Elite Volatility and Change in North Korean Politics: 1970-2010
  31. Bruce Cumings, North Korea: Another Country, The New Press, New York, 2004. Op. Cit.
  32. Ibid.
  36. Journal of Church and State 48 (2006), pp. 659-75.
  37. Ibid, 673.
  38. Bruce Cumings, “Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History (Updated Edition),” W.W. Norton & Company, 2005; p. 404
  39. Ibid.

23 thoughts on “Socialism and Democracy in the DPRK

  1. Who is the writer of this article??? I understand the gravity in putting a name behind this but I also feel its very important.

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