1990-2007: Recent North Korean Governmental History

[imText2]In the 1990s, North Korean society experienced qualitative change. Members of North Korea’s military dictatorship said turning points occurred in December, 1991 when Kim Jong Il became the supreme commander of the People’s Army, and in 1993 when he became the Chairman of National Defense. Others in government said major change occurred in 1993-1994 when full-scale famine began.

The role and power of the North Korea Worker’s Party had been weakened gradually through the 1980s and the Party finally became a tool of Kim Jong Il’s dictatorship. It no longer held a meaningful military role as military power was gradually reorganized under the direct control of Kim Jong Il. The “military-first” politics supported by Kim Jong IL created a strong and independent military branch.

Kim Il Sung and the illusion of the Juche Ideology

[imText1]During the 1990s, communism became irrelevant in North Korea and disappeared as an ideological support of the government. Those in charge of studying Juche Ideology fell out of favor with power and the ideology was relegated to propaganda maneuvers aimed at South Korea or third world countries.

Kim Il Sung favored a Juche Ideology he didn’t understand because he believed himself to be its creator. However, Kim Jong Il had little theoretical interest once the foundation of his ruling system had solidified. After the death of Kim Il Sung, Juche Ideology quickly regressed. The defection of Hwang Jang Yop, secretary of the Worker’s Party and creator of the Juche Ideology, caused the ideology to be largely abandoned.

The state system collapses

This period was characterized by the failure of multiple systems of state. Previously mild bribery levels blossomed to establish North Korea as the world’s most fertile bribery ground. State ability to monitor and control corruption collapsed regardless of the threat of public execution. However, all charges were negotiable. Prosecution was easily thwarted with sufficient money or support from higher levels of authority.