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How North Korea’s Political Ideology Became A De-Facto Religion

On Tuesday, the highly insular North Korea conducted a massive artillery drill to mark the foundation of its military as tensions with the United States continued to escalate.

Like many aspects of North Korea’s political and economic systems, its military came into being under the late president Kim Il Sung. Born into a Christian family during a time of Japanese colonial rule in Korea, Kim rose to power with a vision of an isolated, almost hermit-like independence for his fledgling country.

It was under Kim that the political ideology of “juche” ― a guiding philosophy that places commitment to the state above all else ― took hold in the 1950s and solidified in subsequent decades.

Juche’s pervading influence on civic life explains why freedoms of any sort, including religion, are scarce in a nation that treats its current and past leaders as heroes of mythic proportion.

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