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The Failure of the Juche Philosophy (North Korean Philosophy)

Updated: Mar 16

A massive senate with a hologram of a dictator.

Why Karl Marx's Communist Philosophy Lost Its Popularity in the Modern World

Aside from very specific parts of the modern world, Karl Marx's communist philosophy has been proven to be inefficient with the demise of the Soviet Union and with the financial Americanization of the world (it is, after all, no surprise that the USA has become one of the biggest forces in the world through many means).

Communism, while in favor of the working force of the nation and the promotion of social equality, has largely led to poverty, hunger, disease, and the establishment of corrupt dictatorships, who will not hesitate to persecute those whom they dislike enough to either torture or murder (even though, of course, there are exceptions, like Laos, a communist nation who is considered one of the safest in Asia).

(More on communism was written here)

Juche: An Oxymoron of Power and Poverty

The most likely-to-be-radical country in the world in its communist zealotry is likely to be a country that you've heard of whether or not you've read the previous mentioning of mine to it: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, AKA, North Korea. It has become so radical in its belief in communism that it has basically evolved its philosophy to a new stage—a stage simply called "Juche" (pronounced "joo-cheh"), and although it is often not translated, it can be described as total self-reliance on three levels: economic, political, and martial (military defense).

Using this ideology, the Kim dynasty has created a country that is one big oxymoron: an extremely poor country that is also too powerful to be considered harmless; an offline, uneducated population in a country that is also technologically advanced to be able to hack computers across the world and commit other black-market activities; a secret "hermit kingdom" that is also well-known. The point is understood.

To put it simply, Juche-ism is perhaps the driving force that made the DPRK nation a real-life example of the totalitarian regime described in George Orwell's "1984" novel, a regime that believes to stomp completely on every sign of individualism. From the obvious self-expression right to the less obvious right of privacy; a regime that believes "ignorance is strength", and uses the lack of education as a source of political power. Finally, it puts the value of isolation in such a higher order not even I, an advocate of solitude-as-a-value, will ever agree for it reasonably.

Although Juche gave North Korea a power beyond the imagination of your average dictatorship, and created (supposedly) a high sense of patriotism, it failed abysmally on becoming a self-sufficient country on the economic scale.

Even as a modern ascetic, I have realized how important to the economy of a nation to create and provide unnecessary commerce and other luxuries. In Israel, for example, as the government became too incompetent in providing the necessary help for big and small business alike, the lack of Israeli consumption since the COVID lockdown had made many businesses go bankrupt, and other people, to lose their jobs. This is how important buying something you don't need is, even if it's not important for you or your wallet individually.

Self-Reliance or Self-Sabotage? The Gas Station Allegory

Economic isolation is one of the unwise moves you, as a leader, can do to your country; a shot in its leg, if you will. With the lack of revenue coming from trade with other countries, you are basically left with the limited resources your own country has. As an allegory, it's like a driver of a vehicle that is only willing to buy gas from only a very specific gas station, regardless of where he is going (or where he and his car happen to be at the time).

Eventually, if you're not going to use other sources of the same energy when you cannot use your only desired source, you will be at risk of finding yourself out of gas with nowhere to get fuel, you are only loyal to the currently-unavailable gas station.

Thus, if the DPRK was willing to let go of some of its isolationist pride and have additional sources of money, even if it will not be a rich dictatorship as the United Arab Emirates or the Sultanate of Brunei, at least they will be able to be further away from total poverty. As such, they can give them some power to solve their many problems caused by poverty in the first place, from hunger, to the costs of natural disasters, to various illnesses and so on.

Pride, Self-Reliance and Success

We can compare the financial failure of the Juche philosophy to those who are too proud to be willing to receive any kind of assistance from other people. By agreeing to be helped, you are basically admitting that there are some things you are unable to do on your own.

This is why I eventually refused to become a total hermit even though I had fantasies of becoming one. I became aware of the fact that there are things I cannot do by myself and thus cooperation will be a great help to me.

Total lack of contact with other people, though can be peaceful and relieving at times, can serve as an obstacle in the path of self-maintenance (like psychologists, even if overrated), improvement (like advisors) -- and eventually, success.

That is most true when you are a writer, since even though writing is a very solitary activity (as it can be done well and beyond by only one person) it is still a form of communication that, unless secretive, will be met with reception. Thus, feedback and eventually, recognition. The odds of a pure-hermit to contribute to the world using their own contribution, is very slim. That's unless at least some form of communication, used to bring the writing into greater awareness, is to take place.

Therefore, unless you are eager to accomplish "pure" self-reliance -- assistance, cooperation and tribute should not be met with resent, but with acceptance. Even if it comes from a more self-centred interest, like moral-egoists may claim. Probably in their endeavour to not come out as hypocrites, even the North Koreans are not financially independent as their founding fathers wanted them to be.

North Korea is involved in illicit trades with China and Russia, including the export of resources such as coal, fish, and migrant workers. Perhaps even this isolated nation is willing to open its borders a little bit just for money to come in. Finally, they even accept tourism to a degree, something that not even a full-time hermit would accept if they wish for both solitude and total self-reliance from the world.

North Korea's illicit trades also include:


To summarize it all, the Juche philosophy is a terrifying evolution of the original communist ideology—or devolution, I should say—that took its zealotry in national independence too far for its own good.

Even though it made North Korea the only country that officially believes it powerful enough to be a formidable force even to the United States through its nuclear weaponry, in the end, a country needs financial cooperation with other countries if it wants to not only survive, but to thrive. Even if a business, such as a very niche item shop, offers things you far from need, actually buying their products will eventually lead to your beneficial contribution to the country you're in. It is why local businesses are encouraged to be supported.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback:

Without the influx of capital your country is limited by the wealth of the money it passes around within itself. Obviously if you can't meet your own people's needs you must incorporate outside sources to meet those demands and wants. A country that is rich in lumber will never do anything but produce high quality houses. By allowing trade it might supply you with the opportunity to do more with the lumber that you possess.
Think about it like a high quality automobile internal wood paneling and what if your country possessed lumber of higher quality than what they have to work with. Economics is nothing more then creating opportunity [to solve problems] where none existed.
Think of it like getting health insurance. You seek this kind of help to help offset future medical expenses. [Economic partnerships are about] getting help for things which will better allow you to help more people in the future (Like the North Korean citizenry).
Perhaps [the Juche] philosophy touches on the importance of self sufficiency. This includes asking for help. Nobody will give it to you unless your lucky enough to run across Mother Teresa. You must learn to do things for yourself, and be intelligent enough to ask for help pertaining to those things you cannot do.
One of the lesser known things about intelligence is it isn’t someone who can magically do everything. Much of the time it is self awareness of how much you can’t do by yourself. Don’t be so proud to not simply say when you don’t understand something or need help. [Asking for help] Shows a greater sign of strength then it does weakness.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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