October 01, 2020

Liberation from the present

How North Korean children’s literature enculturates a concept of time

According to the North Korean domestic press, the latest assault of American imperialism is on time itself. In several fiery diatribes made during the past few months, the North Korean regime uses the construct of time to criticize the Obama administration's policy of “strategic patience” or waiting to negotiate with North Korea until it moves towards denuclearization. Lines such as “Time does not pass for the sake of America” and “America races against time in their nuclear confrontation with North Korea,” express the North Korean regime's unwillingness to cooperate with what it sees as nuclear blackmail – crippling sanctions to force them to give up their primary deterrent against outside invasion.

Foreign policy commentary is not the only area of North Korean propaganda where the regime aims to keep time as on its side. Other areas where great effort is made to conscript time in the service of the DPRK include history, with the establishment of the Juche calendar in 1997 to document past events and, most notably, children's literature, where there are deliberate and repeated references to aspects of time in order to shape the political orientation of those who make up North Korea’s future.