See our Bible Quiz page to test your knowledge about other religions beliefs and how they differ from Juche.
The Juche Idea (pronounced /tɕutɕʰe/ in Korean, approximately "joo-chay") is not a religion, but an ideology. It is the official ideology of North Korea and the political system that is based on it. Because of the Communist government that North Korea is based upon, free religious activity no longer exists.
The doctrine of the Juche Idea is a key part of Kimilsungism, the North Korean term for Kim Il-sung's family regime. Juche literally means the "main body" or "subject"; it also has been translated in North Korean sources as "independent stand" and the "spirit of self-reliance".
Kim Il-sung advanced Juche as a slogan in a December 28, 1955, in his speech titled "On Eliminating Dogmatism and Formalism and Establishing Juche in Ideological Work" rejecting of the policy of de-Stalinization (bureaucratic self-reform) in the Soviet Union. The Juche Idea gradually emerged as a systematic ideological doctrine under the political stress of the Sino-Soviet split during the 1960s. The word "Juche" began to appear in untranslated form in English-language North Korean works from around 1965. Kim Il-sung outlined three fundamental principles of Juche during his April 14, 1965, speech “On Socialist Construction and the South Korean Revolution in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”. The three principles are "independence in politics" (chaju), "self-sustenance in the economy" (charip) and "self-defense in national defense" (chawi). Currenty, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, officially authored the definitive statement of Juche in a 1982 document titled On the Juche Idea. He has the final authority over the interpretation of state ideology and incorporated the Songun (army-first) policy into it in 1996.
According to Kim Jong-il's On the Juche Idea, the application of Juche in state policy includes the following:
The people must have independence (chajusong) in thought and politics, economic self-sufficiency, and self-reliance in defense.
Policy must reflect the will and aspirations of the masses and employ them fully in revolution and construction.
Methods of revolution and construction must be suitable to the situation of the country.
The most important work of revolution and construction is molding people ideologically as communists and mobilizing them to constructive action.
The Juche outlook also requires an absolute loyalty to the party and leader. In North Korea, they are the Workers' Party of Korea and Kim Jong-il, respectively.
In official North Korean histories, one of the first conveyed applications of Juche was the Five-Year Plan of 1956-1961, known also as the Chollima Movement, leading to the Chongsan-ri Method and the Taean Work System. The Five-Year Plan involved a rapid economic development of North Korea, focusing on heavy industry, ensuring political independence from both the Soviet Union and the Mao Zedong regime in China. The Chollima Movement, on the other hand, applied the same method of centralized state planning that began with the Soviet First Five-Year Plan in 1928. The campaign coincided with and was partially based on Mao's First Five-Year Plan and the Great Leap Forward. North Korea apparently was able to avoid the catastrophes of the Great Leap Forward.
Despite its ambitions to self-sufficiency, North Korea has constantly relied on economic assistance from other countries. Historically, North Korea received most assistance from the USSR until its collapse in 1991. In the period after the Korean War, North Korea relied heavily on economic assistance and loans from "fraternal" countries from 1953-1963 and also depended considerably on Soviet industrial aid from 1953-1976. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, North Korea's economy went into a crisis, with consequent infrastructural failures leading to a mass famine in the mid-1990s. After several years of starvation, the People's Republic of China conscented to be a substitute for the Soviet Union as a major aid provider, supplying over 400 million dollars per year in humanitarian assistance. Since 2007, North Korea also has received large supplies of heavy fuel oil and technical assistance as scheduled in the six-party talks framework. North Korea was the second largest recipient of international food aid in 2005, yet continues to suffer chronic food shortages.
In Other Countries
During the Cold War, North Korea began promoting Juche and the principle of "self-reliance" as a guide for other countries, in particular third world countries, to help develop their economies. Indonesian president Sukarno visited North Korea in 1964 attempting to implement the North Korean economic program in his country, but resulted in a military coup. Romanian president Nicolae Ceauşescu was impressed by ideological mobilization and mass commendation in North Korea during his Asia visit in 1971, and began his systematization campaign soon after with those features.
The North Korean government hosted its very first international seminar on the Juche Idea in September 1977. Juche study groups exist in several different countries around the world. The Korean Central News Agency and the Voice of Korea occasionally refer to statements by these groups. The International Institute of the Juche Idea in Japan and the Korean Friendship Association in Spain are a couple of the most prominent of these groups. Similarly, in Germany a small stalinist-inclined organisation called Partei der Arbeit Deutschlands (PdAD, 'Labour Party of Germany') was formed. The party collaborated closely with Gesellschaft zum Studium und Verbreitung der Dschutsche-Ideologie in Deutschland ('Society of Studying and Disseminating the Juche Ideology in Germany'). Both were headed by Michael Koth, who later moved towards neo-Nazi positions. Kim Jong-il emphasizes that other countries should not apply Juche formulaically, but should use methods suitable to their situation.