The history of totalitarianism in North Korea began in 1948 soon after the end of World War II. Once Japan was out of the picture, the Soviet and United States governments aided in the division of Korea and took control of the North and the South respectively. Since at the time, there was little consensus about the unified governance of the two newly formed states, the USSR imposed their ideology which remains to this day. This paper will discuss how the contemporary North Korean government infringes on human rights by asserting control and what a person needs to be like to survive under the present regime.
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First, since the formation of NK, the government has been widely implementing social engineering. As a result, in today’s country, there are no social elements that could constitute the opposition. For instance, throughout six decades of totalitarianism, the authorities eradicated the middle class that would own land or partakes in economic activities (French, 2015). There is no place for independent unions, and the educated class consists not of people with original ideas but bureaucrats loyal to the regime. Citizens cannot move freely within the country let alone go abroad.
Second, the government imposes a radical ideology and a cult of personality around its Supreme Leader. Since the overwhelming majority of NK citizens have no access to the Internet and foreign press, the doctrine is their only reality. Lastly, the authorities use brutal force to keep citizens under control (Myers, 2015). Convicted “enemies” are likely to end up in a forced labor camp where torture is nothing uncommon. North Koreans cannot make a change: they vote in “no-choice” parliamentary elections with no alternatives.
The ideal citizen would not doubt the ideology or the government’s actions in blind adoration for Supreme Leader. He or she citizens should be ready to join the network of informants and dismiss human bonds to help to assert the regime further. In general, he or she should not have any attachment to their friends and family members, as they can be arrested any day. Moreover, the perfect North Korean should be ready to expose them for misconduct when interrogated. He or she should uphold the vision of the external enemy and have disdain for other states, especially Japan, South Korea, and the United States.
Total government control has made North Korea one of the most oppressive states in human history. The authorities use three tools to assert dominance: social engineering and eradication of the middle class, Juche ideology and the cult of Supreme Leader, and brutal force and imprisonment. The ideal citizen needs to be obedient, not too attached to his or her family and friends, and uphold the ideology. The state that the country is now can be an example of what can happen if voters in democratic countries do not exercise their rights and let the wrong leader come to power.
French, P. (2015). North Korea: The state of paranoia. London, UK: Zed Books Ltd.
Myers, B. R. (2015). North Korea’s Juche myth. Busan, South Korea: Sthele Press.
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