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View more articles by Dennis P. Halpin
Dennis P. Halpin
Dennis P. Halpin, a former Foreign Service Officer and senior Congressional staff, is a consultant on Asian issues.
Outside observers of North Korea have pondered for decades the exact roots of North Korea’s unique ideology of Juche. An ideology centered upon the concepts of the divinity of the Kim family and their mystical roots, as well as the racial purity and historic mission of the North Korean people, has drawn various comparisons. Some refer to North Korea as the last “Stalinist state,” seeking to intertwine Marxist ideology with a particularly harsh form of totalitarian government. Others look to Maoism and the chauvinistic personality cult which it promoted. Yet nothing seems to be an exact fit.
The dynastic aspects of the Kim family rule would be abhorrent to Karl Marx, representing the antithesis of what he championed – the abolition of feudalistic and capitalistic structures based upon family blood-lines, private property and inherited wealth. For, in a sense, all of North Korea is the private property of the Kim family, since all major decisions regarding resource distribution are reportedly based upon their exact dictates – as demonstrated by Kim Jong Un’s construction of a ski resort and dolphin aquarium in a country which still has widespread child malnourishment. Those persons – reportedly even including Kim Jong Un’s late uncle, Jang Song Thaek – who make resource distribution decisions independent of the Kim family’s wishes do so at their peril.