Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

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North Korean – Chegukjuŭi

May 26th, 2011 · No Comments · Imperialism, Korean (North), Threat



Relates to imperialism, imperialist

Unlike oese, imperialism represents a rather specific threat. It takes the form of 미제 mije (American imperialism) and to a lesser degree, 일제 ilje (Japanese imperialism). Imperialism is an opposing concept to socialism – an embodiment of all things evil, including failings in culture, manners, diet, human relations, etc. According to the North Korean discourse, the DPRK has successfully fought against this evil so far.

Imperialism conducts its evil activity via various cunning strategies, such as 세계화 segehwa (globalization) and 부르죠아 사상문화적 침투 burŭjyoa sasangmunhwajŏk ch’imt’u (infiltration of bourgeois ideology and culture), 민주주의 minjujuŭi (democracy). Unlike South Korea’s positive perception of globalization and democracy, North Korean connotations of these terms are strongly negative. In the North Korean media these words are always written in derogatory quotation marks (‘democracy’, ‘globalization’), or are accompanied by special derogatory words such as “민주주의” 간판 “minjujuŭ” kangp’an, the charade of ‘democracy’. Such concepts are perceived as cunning forms of subversive activity against North Korean national entity, and also against other independent nations of the world.

“Imperialism” represents a major threat not only to North Korean national security but also to the security of all progressive humanity. According to the North Korean cultural discourse, other countries in the world are failing to protect themselves against imperialism because unlike the DPRK they fail to choose their own course. The DPRK is thus an international hero in the fight against the threat of imperialism.


Examples of the use of chegukjuŭi:

그 어떠한 제국주의 세력도 조선인민을 정복 할 수 없다.[1]

“No imperialist force on the earth can conquer the Korean people.”


제국주의와의 치렬한 대 결전에서 우리 식 사회주의를 굳건히 수호하고 강성대국의 찬란한 려명을 안아온 선군 혁명의 위대한 승리는[2]

“The great victory of the military-first revolution which protected socialism of our style in the severe battle with imperialism and opened the brilliant dawn of the powerful state…”


국제 무대에서 자주 력량 과 지배주의 세력, 사회주의와 제국주의 사이의 대결이 더욱 치렬하게 벌어지고 있다.

“On the international scene the fight between independent forces and the forces of capitalism, between socialism and imperialism, is fervently unravelling.” [3]


제국주의의 강권과 전횡, “세계화” 책동의 희생물이 되여 진통을 겪고 있는 많은 나라들의 비극적인 현실은 우리자신이 선택하고 걸어온 길이 천만번 정당하였다는 것을 뚜렷이 보여주고 있다.[4]

“The tragic reality of many countries which became victims of the “globalization” plot – of the tyranny and authoritarianism of imperialism– and which are now suffering from many pains, clearly demonstrates to us that the course which we have chosen ourselves, and on which we are now set, is correct one thousand times.”


The following lengthy passage from the article “The danger and the poison of infiltration of bourgeois ideas and culture” (Nodong sinmun, 2005, 2 of August, 2) explains how, according to the official North Korean picture of the world, a universal threat of ‘infiltration of bourgeois ideas and culture’ destroys national security:

오늘 제국주의자들의 사상문화적 침투책동으로 하여 인류의 정신문화 생할은 엄중한 위기에 처하고 있다. 제국주의자들이 퍼뜨리는 부르죠아 사상과 문화, 생활 양식은 인민들의 민족자주 의식과 혁명정신을 마비시키고 그들을 사상적으로 무장해제 시키고 있으며 사람들을 도덕적으로 타락변질 시키고 있다…

부르죠아 사상문화적 침투는 특히 청년들에게 엄중한 해독적 후과를 미친다. 부르죠아 사상문화와 생활양식에 오염되면 청년들이 례외없이 정치생활, 조직생활을 하기 싫어하는 극단한 자유주의자로 전락되게 된다. 그렇게 되면 정치를 외면하고 정치 생활에 무심하게 되여 나아가서 국가의 법질서와 사회질서를 공공연히 위반하고 제멋대로 행동하는 불량배로 굴러 떨어지게 된다.[5]

“Today the conspiracy of the infiltration of the imperialists’ ideology and culture puts in serious danger the spiritual culture and life of humanity. Bourgeois ideas and culture -, bourgeois life style – disseminated by imperialists paralyzes independent national consciousness and the revolutionary spirit of the people, disarms the people ideologically and corrupts them morally…

Infiltration of bourgeois ideas and culture has a particularly poisonous affect on young people. When young people are contaminated by bourgeois ideas, culture and way of life they all without exception start to hate political life and, organized life, and turn into extreme liberals. They start to turn away from politics, lose interest in political life, and then easily violate the law and social order of the state and become hoodlums who act by their own will.”


Note the emotional, alarmist tone of the passage. The ‘ideological pollution’ which allegedly destroys everything in its path and is particularly dangerous for young people is depicted similarly to a mortal virus or a drug against which people have no defence. The only strategy of protection which logically comes to mind is to close the society from the dangerous ‘virus’, and this is what the Workers’ Party is actually trying to do.




[1] Choyŏng taesajŏn [New Korean-English Dictionary], Pyongyang ŏegukŏ taehak yŏngŏ hakpu sajŏn p’yŏnch’an chiptan ŏeguk muntosŏ ch’ulp’ansa, 2002, p.1955.

[2]“Uri siktaero saranagaja”, I kuho rŭl tŏuk ch’ŏljŏhi kuhyŏnhaja”[ Let us more consistently promote a slogan “Let us survive our way”], Nodong sinmun,2008, 7th of May, 1.

[3]“Uri siktaero saranagaja”, I kuho rŭl tŏuk ch’ŏljŏhi kuhyŏnhaja”[ Let us more consistently promote a slogan “Let us survive our way”], Nodong sinmun,2008, 7th of May, 1.

[4] “Uri siktaero saranagaja”, I kuho rŭl tŏuk ch’ŏljŏhi kuhyŏnhaja”[ Let us more consistently promote a slogan “Let us survive our way”], Nodong sinmun,2008, 7th of May, 1.

[5] Purŭjyoa sasangmunhwajŏk ch’imt’uŭi uihŏmsŏngkwa haetoksŏng” [ Danger and poison of infiltration of bourgeois ideas and culture]. Nodong sinmun, 2005, 2 of August, 2.


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