North Korean nostalgia in a unified Korea | NK News
June 23, 2024

North Korean nostalgia in a unified Korea

Why the collapse of the Kim regime will not mean a collapse of the Kims’ image

During a recent trip to Russia, I visited two Soviet “lifestyle” museums, which are essentially collections of everyday items from Soviet times. Soviet-era telephones, mailboxes, clothes, and posters line the walls of these museums. At the Soviet nostalgia museum in Kazan, a jacket made entirely from Communist Party books was on display and a drum set was available for guests to play. At the museum in Moscow, guests would have to answer a series of questions on Soviet history in order to leave. The irony of being trapped in a Soviet museum was not lost on me. In post-communist Russia, Soviet nostalgia is alive and well. While the Soviet Union was far more liberal (which isn’t saying much) than North Korea has ever been, a similar nostalgia for the days of the DPRK may impede the progress of a unified Korea one day.

As B.R Myers has argued, the Kim family personality cult in a unified Korea will not collapse. Statues of the Kims will not topple like the statues of Saddam Hussein did. While most North Koreans will not be keeping portraits of the Dear Leader in their living rooms like they do today, statues of the Kims will still be seen in public spaces after unification.

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