Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

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North Korean – Kyŏlsa ongui | Ch’ongp’atan adŭl/ttal/yŏngung

May 26th, 2011 · No Comments · Ethnicity, Korean (North), Sacrifice


kyŏlsa ongui

‘Desperate readiness to die (for the Leader, the country, the Party etc)’

총파탄 아들딸/영웅

ch’ongp’atan adŭl/ttal/yŏngung

“Sons and daughters of guns and bombs”, ”heroes of living guns and bombs”, “living guns and bombs”

Relates to sacrifice

This means a person’s determination to sacrifice his/her life and youth for the sake/defence of the Leader. This euphemism is often used in relation to young people who are supposed to sacrifice their young lives for the Leader.

The discourses of the other socialist countries, the USSR in particular, highly regarded the idea of martyrdom of their citizens in the case of a deadly threat to the country. However, self-sacrifice was never perceived as a conventional means to protect the country and the leader. It was always seen as exceptional behavior on the part of a special hero – behaviour which other citizens were supposed to look up to but not necessarily follow.

In the North Korean case, self-sacrifice is meant to be a duty of everybody, and the Party has all the rights to demand it. Kyŏlsa ongui and ch’ongp’atan adŭl/ttal/yŏngung embody the concept of martyrdom, and the examples below clearly demonstrate that sacrifice in the North Korean setting is supposed to be a matter for the majority of its population, including children.


우리 군대와 인민의 정신력의 근본 핵은 수령결사옹위에 있다.
The spiritual strength of our army and our people is based on the readiness to die for the leader.

결사옹위 투사로 전변하다
(the whole nation must) turn into desperate warriors/ ready to die warriors.

우리혁명 전사들은 인생의 청춘기도 수령결사옹위로 꽃 피우고 인생의 로년기에도 수령결사옹위로 마무리 하여야 한다.
Our revolutionary warriors should start from their youth to be ready to die for the leader, and in mature age still be ready to die for the leader.

청년동맹 조직들은 사상교양 사업에 선차적 힘을 넣어 모든 청년들을 혁명의 수뇌부를 결사옹위 하는 선군 시대의 청년 영웅, 총 폭탄 영웅으로 튼튼히 준비시켜야 합니다.
Organizations of the youth league must put their primary efforts into ideological work; they must seriously prepare all our young people so they will turn into heroes of the “military first epoch” who are ready to die for the leader of the revolution – must turn into living guns and bombs.

The example below is a quotation from a children’s verse.

그 어떤 대적도 쥐락펴락
무릎 끓게 하시는 장군님 계시여
세상 천하 모든 것은 우리의 것
찬란한 미래가 마중 와요
그래서 세계가 부러워해요
온 세상이 무서워해요
주체 년호로 빛나는 태양민족
우리도 총 폭탄 아들 딸이예요.

We have the Leader who will put down on their knees
All big self-willed enemies
All the things in this world belong to us
A bright future will come to us
So the world envies us
The whole world is afraid of us,
The nation of the sun which shines in the era of juch’e
We are the sons and daughters of guns and bombs.

In this verse, a quintessence of the North Korean strategy of national defence, the ‘big self-willed’ enemies who will dare to attack Korea are to be confronted by the strong Leader who will put the aggressors on their knees. According to Korean cultural tradition, ‘the sun that shines in the era of juch’e’ is a popular euphemism for the Leader. The “Sun-Leader” is supported by the self-sacrificing nation who is unquestionably ready to die, thus becoming “the sons and daughters of guns and bombs”. Even children, the target audience of this poem, are not to be spared from self-sacrifice. Feeling this determination of all Koreans, the outside world is afraid of them, envies them and does not dare to attack.


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