North Korea’s Totalitarianism in Politics


Totalitarianism is among the approaches to exercising power regarded as a means of achieving financial stability and eliminating the negative effects of the freedom of expression. Tyranny and totalitarianism help to maintain stability by preventing the outflow of any resources, including information leaks. Being among the totalitarian societies of the twenty-first century, North Korea is the country that controls its citizens using a variety of tools, ranging from forced political participation to the deification of the national leader.

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North Korea as a Totalitarian Society

North Korea officially known as DPR Korea presents one of the most interesting countries in terms of political and economic life. However, since the protection of information is valued in all totalitarian regimes, it can be said that many aspects of this country’s domestic policy present significant research gaps. The country in question morphed into a totalitarian society in the middle of the twentieth century, taking its unique economic route and drastically changing its approach to foreign relations (Napoleoni, 2018). Almost seventy years after that, the country still adheres to the Juche ideology that uses some ideas of Marxism-Leninism and applies them to the Asian world (Napoleoni, 2018).

The state and its current leader, Kim Jong-un, limit citizens’ ability to exercise their rights in many ways. In democratic societies, people use the right to freedom of opinion to criticize the authorities, analyze the consequences of new laws and decisions, and can share the results of their research if they do not involve libel and intentional distortions of facts. As for totalitarian states such as North Korea, citizens in such societies are denied the right to voice their opinion if it runs counter to any of the accepted ideological points (Napoleoni, 2018).

For instance, according to Napoleoni’s (2018) analysis, the Kim family outperforms Mussolini since they have expanded the cult of personality to turn in into a religion. Since the country’s current leader has a god-like status, casting doubts on the correctness of any of his decisions equals a crime against the state.

In the discussed country, people are systematically denied the right to equal justice. Despite the said unity, justice is distributed according to the principles of songbun. It is a type of caste system, in which people belonging to the higher classes get less severe sentences compared to disadvantaged populations committing the same crimes (Napoleoni, 2018). With that in mind, in North Korea, an ideal citizen is a person who accepts any decisions of the leader if they are announced as beneficial to the nation and demonstrates the willingness to do anything for the good of the country (Napoleoni, 2018). However, in this way, the country is represented by the ruling coterie.

Voter apathy is among the factors facilitating the unjust distribution of power. If people are not interested in expressing their opinion during elections, it provides the ruling clique with new opportunities to falsify results. However, the situation is a bit different in North Korea – to create an illusion of people’s power and transparent elections, the authorities use any methods, including the threats of punishment, to maximize voter turnouts (Napoleoni, 2018).

Apart from militarization leading to provocations in the international arena, propaganda in schools, and travel locks, the state controls its citizens due to manipulations with voting rights (Hess, 2018). Considering the presence of only one party, voters in North Korea have to make Hobson’s choice.

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To sum it up, totalitarian societies are based on limiting people’s freedom and preventing the outflow of useful resources. North Korea is a country that illustrates the ideology of totalitarianism since its citizens are prevented from using their rights with the help of the cult of personality, the new class system, and forced civic engagement. Additionally, people in the country are controlled due to the development of militarization and propaganda in education.


Hess, A. A. (2018). Why does North Korea engage in provocations? Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, 5(1), 57-83.

Napoleoni, L. (2018). North Korea: The country we love to hate. Crawley, Australia: UWA Publishing.

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