April 16, 2024

Why North Koreans now long for the age of indoctrination

Bygone-era provided more stability, despite criticism sessions putting Cold War allies to shame

In the late 1960s, a Soviet engineer spent a few months in North Korea. Upon his return, he described his experiences in the following way: “People do not work much there, since their favorite pastime is ideological sessions. When they are not sleeping, they spend their time studying Kim Il Sung’s works or criticizing one another for not studying the man’s works hard enough.”

This might be a bit of an overstatement, but it still provides a fairly accurate picture of life in Kim Il Sung’s North Korea. While all communist states of this period took ideological indoctrination seriously, none seemed to have taken it quite so seriously as the North Korea. Kim Il Sung’s North Korea was a society of total control and a society whose members had no way of avoiding the constant indoctrination by the authorities.

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