December 08, 2022
Columns

How North Korea’s warped history puts Pyongyang at the center of everything

Children in DPRK learn that treasonous southerners collaborating with a foreign power led to division a millennia ago

When North Korean state media proudly talk about national traditions in Korea, they single out two ancient states which are seen as an embodiment of this old glory: Goguryeo and Koryo.

Often, the very word "Koryo" is a stand-in for everything authentic and national in the DPRK: Eastern medicine is known is called Koryo medicine, the national flag carrier is called Air Koryo and the second university established in the country — after Kim Il Sung University, of course – is called Koryo Songyungwan. In 1980, Kim Il Sung suggested a confederacy system with North and South Korea could be called the "Confederate Republic of Koryo."