Juche has been described as the state religion of North Korea. Attributed to the late dictator Kim Il-sung, the Juche philosophy interpolates Marxist concepts of the deconstructed self and applies them to a fervently nationalistic ideology that breaks from the old, globalist Marxist notion of “The Internationale” and instead stresses political independence, economic self-sustenance and self-reliance in matters of defense for the Korean people.
At least, that’s the theory. Though both Kim and his progeny – first, Kim Jong-il, and now, Kim Jong-un – have continued to stress Juche as the heart of their political philosophy, scholars have long debated the extent to which the ideas of Juche are taken seriously by the North Korean population, as opposed to simply being imposed upon them at the barrel of a gun.
In his forthcoming documentary, “Juche Strong,” D.C.-based director Rob Montz explores the concept of Juche and comes to the conclusion that it is, in fact, core to the hold the intergenerational Kim dynasty has had over the people of North Korea. While not discounting the extreme police powers the Kims have exercised, Montz displays how the quasi-religious reverence the North Korean people have for their dear leader has persisted, even as the nation was in the grip of mass starvation.
The film includes rare first-hand footage shot by Montz inside North Korea itself, scenes few Westerners have ever had the chance to view.
In full disclosure, I should mention that Rob is a close friend of mine (and his corgi puppy, Bronson, an even closer pal of my dog, Murray Rothbark.) But even if he weren’t, I’d still highly recommend viewing (and sharing) the trailer below and subscribing for updates at juchestrong.com. I, for one, can hardly wait to see the whole thing.