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An Analysis on The North Korean Politics and Purges from the point of Power Struggle : Focused on The Continuities and Changes in The Backgrounds and Types of The Power Struggles

유동궁 1

1육군사관학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Considering the general ideas such as totalitarianism, socialism, and equalitarianism under the system of Suryung(the supreme leader of a group), there is no need to purge somebody in the North Korea. In December 2013, however, so-called ‘the actual ruler’, Jang Song-taek was executed horribly as a signal flare of the purge on the high ranking persons under the leadership of Kim Jung Eun. It doesn't make sense. If the power is overwhelmingly concentrated on the Supreme Leader, as described by the Su-ryong system theory, if all of the state apparatus are finely institutionalized to support his power, and if all of the ideologies legitimizing his authority such as Juche ideology are truly accepted by public and are prevalent in a society, and as described by totalitarianism, if all of the individuals and societies are under the surveillance of secret police, we can possibly assume that there are is no different views, no challenges, and no purges. But if we look into the history of the North Korean regime, purges happened frequently. So we feel intuitively that we need different explanation about North Korean regime except the Suryong system or a totalitarianism, that is the perspective of the power struggle. Under the awareness of the problems mentioned above, this article examines the four main purge cases of the North Korean regime: 1956, 1967, 1997 and 2013 purges throughout the history of this country, not to explain 'how much is this Suryong powerful?', but to explain 'why are these purges still happening?' under the article's analytical framework, three backgrounds of power struggle: 'an attempt to shift the power structure' - 'ideological debates' – 'economic policy confrontations', and drew the conclusions as follows. First, Although there is a question whether if there is a power struggle in the North Korean regime or not, we can assure that there is a power struggle, the politics in the North Korea. There are different views, conflicts, adjustments, and compromises among persons and groups. Second, the power struggles have been brought to the surface in the appearance of purges without exception in times of internal-external turmoils, and as the results of purges, the political power of the Supreme Leader have been solidified and strengthened. Third, the power struggle took place for various reasons, not only because of a political factor such as a power structure shift, but also because of the ideological disputes or the economic policy confrontations, and all the reasons have their own consistent conflict structure and logic such as regarding the power structure shift, 'collective leadership system vs. Suryong system which is powerful dictatorship, regarding the ideological debate, 'orthodox Marx-Leninism vs. Juche ideology', and regarding economy policies, 'communist economic policies vs. capitalist economic policies'. Fourth, something new pattern has been discovered in the recent Jang's purge case, that Kim Jong-un, the new Suryong, favored and adopted some reformative economic policies such as '6.28 measures' over against Jang Sung-taek's conservative policies, which implicates that the North Korean regime might step into the Chinese style transition, embracing the market economy elements into the state economy through the reformative policies to secure the regime's financial resources, and relieve discontents of North Korean people regarding economic matters, meanwhile strengthening the power in the political sphere.

Citation status

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