"Mostly Propaganda in Nature:" Kim Il Sung, the Juche Ideology, and the Second Korean War
NKIDP Working Paper #3, “‘Mostly Propaganda in Nature:’ Kim Il Sung, the Juche Ideology, and the Second Korean War,” written by Mitchell Lerner (Ohio State University), chronicles the events of the “Second Korean War” from 1966 through 1969 and explores the internal circumstances and foreign policy of North Korea during this critical period.
Drawing upon newly obtained materials from the archives of North Korea’s former communist allies, Lerner argues that:
- The Juche ideology played an important role in North Korea’s policymaking during the Second Korean War;
- The behavior of the North Korean leadership during the Second Korean War period was primarily motivated by a desire to compensate for internal failures by generating external crises that would offset any potential threat to their control;
- Kim Il Sung's actions throughout the Second Korean War support the idea that his intention was to remind the North Korean people of the constant threat presented by the imperialist powers and of the necessity of the strong and dramatic actions he was taking in response;
- Due to the turmoil in Chinese-North Korean relations in the mid-1960s, North Korea stabilized relations with the Soviet Union, though the Soviet-North Korean alliance remained fraught with tension to a greater extent than has been generally recognized;
- Kim Il Sung appeared to have had a genuine commitment to the principles of Juche ideology while at the same time also used Juche to further his own political agenda and strengthen his personal dictatorship.
Appended to NKIDP Working Paper #3 are thirteen translated documents from Hungarian, (East) German, Czech, and Russian archives that allow scholars and students to gain greater insight into the causes of North Korean conduct during the Second Korean War in the late 1960s.
To download “’Mostly Propaganda in Nature:’ Kim Il Sung, the Juche Ideology, and the Second Korean War,” or to view the documents included in the article, please see the links below.
(click document title to be redirected to the Wilson Center Digital Archive)
DOCUMENT NO. 13
Excerpt from Leonid Brezhnev's Speech at the April (1968) CC CPSU Plenum, "On the Current Problems of the International Situation and on the Struggle of the CPSU for the Unity of the International Communist Movement" April 9, 1968
About the Author
North Korea International Documentation Project
The North Korea International Documentation Project serves as an informational clearinghouse on North Korea for the scholarly and policymaking communities, disseminating documents on the DPRK from its former communist allies that provide valuable insight into the actions and nature of the North Korean state. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. Read more
Cold War International History Project
The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. Read more
History and Public Policy Program
The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs. Read more