supports I.C.E.Y. - H.O.P.E. (non-profit org)
(International Cooperation of Environmental Youth - Helping Our Polluted Earth) Any advertisement you view helps save the environment!  Thanks!


Countries / Regions


Viewer's Corner

Publish your story on - Personal experiences, opinions, articles, or any information related to Asia.  More Info...


Asianinfo Photo Gallery
Photos of Asia now available for purchase 

FREE Photos available!

IMG_0122 copy.JPG (69431 bytes)




Hong Kong







North Korea Main Page






 supports I.C.E.Y. - H.O.P.E. (non-profit org)
(International Cooperation of Environmental Youth - Helping Our Polluted Earth) Any advertisement you view helps save the environment!  Thanks!

traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom

North Korean youths studying the Bible.

Underground Churches in North Korea

Worship of their eternal President Kim Il Sung is religion in North Korea 


The Juche Idea (Korean pronunciation:  approximately "joo-cheh") is the official state ideology of North Korea. It teaches that "man is the master of everything and decides everything," and that the Korean people are the masters of Korea's revolution. Juche is a component of Kimilsungism, North Korea's political system. The word literally means "main body" or "subject"; it has also been translated in North Korean sources as "independent stand" and the "spirit of self-reliance".

The first known reference to Juche was a speech given by Kim Il-sung on December 28, 1955, titled "On Eliminating Dogmatism and Formalism and Establishing Juche in Ideological Work" in rejection of the policy of de-Stalinization (bureaucratic self-reform) in the Soviet Union. In this speech, Kim said that "Juche means Chosun's revolution" (Chosun being the traditional name for Korea). Hwang Jang-yeop, Kim's top adviser on ideology, discovered this speech later in the 1950s when Kim sought to develop his own version of Marxism–Leninism.

The Juche Idea itself gradually emerged as a systematic ideological doctrine under the political pressures of the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s. The word "Juche" also began to appear in untranslated form in English-language North Korean works from around 1965. Kim Il-sung outlined the three fundamental principles of Juche in his April 14, 1965, speech “On Socialist Construction and the South Korean Revolution in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”:

  1. "independence in politics" (chaju)
  2. "self-sustenance in the economy" (charip)
  3. "self-defense in national defense" (chawi).

Current North Korean leader Kim Jong-il officially authored the definitive statement on Juche in a 1982 document titled On the Juche Idea. He has final authority over the interpretation of the state ideology and incorporated the Songun (army-first) policy into it in 1996.

 Practical application

North Korea

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
North Korea

  • Constitution
  • Juche

  • Eternal President
    • Kim Il-sung
  • Supreme Leader
    • Kim Jong-il
  • Supreme People's Assembly
    • Chairman of the Presidium
      • Kim Yong-nam
  • National Defence Commission
    • Chairman
      • Kim Jong-il
  • Government
    • Premier

According to Kim Jong-il's On the Juche Idea, the application of Juche in state policy entails the following:

  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 country.
  4. The most important work of revolution and construction is molding people ideologically as communists and mobilizing them to constructive action.

The Juche outlook requires absolute loyalty to the revolutionary party and leader. In North Korea, these are the Workers' Party of Korea and Kim Jong-il, respectively.

In official North Korean histories, one of the first purported applications of Juche was the Five-Year Plan of 1956-1961, also known as the Chollima Movement, which led to the Chongsan-ri Method and the Taean Work System. The Five-Year Plan involved rapid economic development of North Korea, with a focus on heavy industry, to ensure political independence from both the Soviet Union and the Mao Zedong regime in China. The Chollima Movement, however, applied the same method of centralized state planning that began with the Soviet First Five-Year Plan in 1928. The campaign also coincided with and was partially based on Mao's First Five-Year Plan and the . North Korea was apparently able to avoid the catastrophes of the Great Leap Forward.

Despite its aspirations to self-sufficiency, North Korea has continually relied on economic assistance from other countries. Historically, North Korea received most of its assistance from the USSR until its collapse in 1991. In the period after the Korean War, North Korea relied on economic assistance and loans from "fraternal" countries from 1953–1963 and also depended considerably on Soviet industrial aid from 1953-1976. Following the fall of the USSR, the North Korean economy went into a crisis, with consequent infrastructural failures contributing to the mass famine of the mid-1990s. After several years of starvation, the People's Republic of China agreed to be a substitute for the Soviet Union as a major aid provider, supplying over US$400 million per year in humanitarian assistance. Since 2007, North Korea also received large supplies of heavy fuel oil and technical assistance as scheduled in the six-party talks framework. North Korea was the second largest recipient of international food aid in 2005, and continues to suffer chronic food shortages.

Relation to Marxism, Stalinism, and Maoism

In 1972, Juche replaced Marxism-Leninism in the revised North Korean constitution as the official state ideology, this being a response to the Sino-Soviet split. Juche was nonetheless defined as a creative application of Marxism-Leninism. Kim Il-sung also explained that Juche was not original to North Korea and that in formulating it he only laid stress on a programmatic orientation that is inherent to all Marxist-Leninist states.

After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea’s greatest economic benefactor, all reference to Marxism-Leninism was dropped in the revised 1998 constitution. But Marxist-Leninist phraseology remains in occasional use, for example, socialism and communism. The establishment of the Songun doctrine in the mid-1990s, however, has formally designated the military, not the proletariat or working class, as the main revolutionary force in North Korea.

Kim Il-sung's policy statements and speeches from the 1940s and 1950s confirm that the North Korean government accepted Joseph Stalin's 1924 theory of socialism in one country and its model of centralized autarkic economic development. Kim himself was a great admirer of Stalin. Following Stalin’s death on March 5, 1953, the North Korean leader wrote an emotional obituary in his honor titled "Stalin Is the Inspiration for the Peoples Struggling for Their Freedom and Independence" in a special issue of the WPK newspaper Rodong Sinmun (March 10, 1953), the opening of which reads:

Stalin has died. The ardent heart of the great leader of progressive mankind has ceased to beat. This sad news has spread over Korean territory like lightning, inflicting a bitter blow to the hearts of millions of people. Korean People's Army soldiers, workers, farmers, and students, as well as all residents of both South and North Korea, have heard the sad news with profound grief. The very being of Korea has seemed to bow down, and mothers who had apparently exhausted their tears in weeping for the children they had lost in the bombing of the [American] air bandits sobbed again.

Juche Tower 

Korean Ancient Myths

The origin of the Korean people is not easily explained.  However, since historical records show that Ko Choson (Old Choson), was the first Korean kingdom, it can be taken as the original of the Korean people.  The life of Ko Choson's heroic founder is described in the Tan-gun myth.

The Tan-gun mtyh describes Tan=gun's birth from Hwan-ung, who came down from Heaven, and a bear-woman, who lived on  Earth.  As is generally true of mythology, this story is not some ungrounded fantasy, but is rather a means of explaining historical fact through the logic of symbols.  Its symbolism is used to describe a historical fact, namely the political coalition that took place during Korea's Bronze Age.  From ancient times, the Korean people have retained Tan-gun as the name of the hero who founded the first political federation of the Korean people.  Tan-gun is apparently a historical person who lived during a specific stage of Korea's history, and to the extent that his memory remains within the national consciousness, he can be considered the ancestor of the Korean people.

The Korean people have, throughout their history, constantly been threatened by the tremendous military might of neighboring nations such as China, Manchuria or Mongolia.  In this precarious position, Koreans have found strength in the sense of themselves as a unique people who are descended from Tan-gun.  The ancient records that referred to Tan-gun were lost in the chaos of frequent wars and invasions.  During the Three Kingdoms period when Koguryo, Paekche and Shila vied for supremacy, the kingdoms found it difficult to promote the idea of a united people.  Yet in the aftermath of Shilla's unification of the Three Kingdoms in 668, Koreans' sense of themselves as a people was evident as Shilla joined forces with the former subjects of Koguryo and Paekche to drive away the Chinese Tang forces.

The Development of Buddhism and Confucianism in Korea

Classical Korean philosophy began during the Three Kingdoms period, and with Mahayana thought, bloomed around the time of Shilla's unification of the Three Kingdoms. With the introduction of Chinese, all Three Kingdoms actually studied Confucianism first; however the outstanding thinkers of the period were initially Buddhists. In particular, Buddhist culture was a leading force within the Shilla and Paekche Kingdoms.

Confucianism and Buddhism have had a decisive influence on the minds and thoughts of Koreans for at least 22 centuries. Both of these religious traditions have profound, religious world-views and intricate doctrinal systems which form an integrated whole. Consequently, neither of these systems could be introduced piecemeal, and the doctrinal content of Confucianism and Buddhism in Korea therefore did not change. In particular, the tradition of Neo-Confucianism (a philosophical movement that appeared in song China) was strictly maintained and developed in Korea. For this reason, modern scholars have often criticized Choson-period Neo-Confucian thinkers as dogmatic and cliquish. This evaluation appears valid if a particular thinker is seen in isolation, but if one considers all the great Neo-Confucian thinkers who lived during the late-Koryo and early-Choson periods, one realizes that this was a group of highly creative intellectuals. Even more impressive is the series of great thinkers one encounters when studying the long history of Korean Buddhist thinkers from the Three Kingdoms to the Choson period. In the sections below, we will look at such great thinkers, choosing five from the Buddhist tradition and five from the Confucian tradition. Through a brief examination of their thought, we will try to elucidate more precisely the uniqueness of the Korean character as it is manifest within the context of their respective traditions.


Cheap Airline Tickets

Discount Hotels

Rental Car Deals




Disclaimer: does not guarantee the complete accuracy of the information provided on this site or links.  Do your own research and get a professional's opinion before adhering to advice or information contained herein.  Use of the information contained herein provided by and any mistakes contained within are at the individual risk of the user. 

(We do not provide links to, or knowingly promote, any violent or pornographic sites.)

Suggestions  |  Organization Info  |  Become a Sponsor Privacy Statement

 Copyright © 2010 - All Rights Reserved.- Copyright Policy