Government type: North Korea is a Stalinist, single-party, totalitarian state in which the ruling regime has near complete control over the people and their lives. Blending imperial traditions of ancient Korea, strict Confucianism and personality cult politics, the government rules so completely it resembles a theocracy more than socialist state with it leaders as its high priests. The masses must conform and obey or face dire consequences

Journalist Christopher Hitchens described North Korea as the world’s worst state — “a weird coincidence of totalitarianism with state failure...On one hand the country is marked by rigid fanatical militarization, complete censorship and total party control. On the other, it continues to be plagued by galloping underdevelopment, scarcity and social implosion.”

North Korea is a dictatorship and single-party state. The official state ideology is "Juche" or "national self-reliance". The most important political organization is the Workers' Party of Korea. The most important government bodies are the Korean People's Military, which is technically the armed wing of the Workers' Party of Korea and the Politburo (decision-making body of the Central Committee). There is also a the rubber-stamp parliament.

North Korean ranked last with a score of 1.08 on the Democracy Index, a ranking of 167 countries based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories, measuring pluralism, civil liberties and political culture. North Korea was classified as authoritarian regime. By comparison Norway, ranked first with a score of 9.87 and was recognized as a full democracy. Countries can also be labeled flawed democracy or a, hybrid regime. [Source: Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Wikipedia Wikipedia ]

Although a republic in name and nominally governed by a representative assembly, North Korea is actually ruled by the Communist party (known in Korea as the Korea Workers' party). According to the “Columbia Encyclopedia”: “North Korea is governed under the constitution of 1948, which has been extensively revised. The chairman of the National Defense Commission is the nation's "supreme leader" and de facto head of state because the title of president was reserved for Kim Il Sung after his death. The premier, who is the head of government, is elected, unopposed, by the Supreme People's Assembly. The unicameral legislature consists of the 687-seat Supreme People's Assembly, whose members are popularly elected to five-year terms. Although nominally a republic governed by the Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea is actually ruled by the Korea Workers party, the North Korean Communist party. The ruling party approves a list of candidates who are generally elected without opposition. Administratively North Korea is divided into nine provinces and four municipalities. [Source: “Columbia Encyclopedia”, 6th ed., Columbia University Press]

Citizenship in North Korea

Citizenship in North Korea is by descent only. Att least one parent must be a citizen of North Korea. There is no citizenship by birth like in the United States and dual citizenship is not recognized. Residency requirement for naturalization: unknown. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020]

Fyodor Tertitskiy wrote in NK News: “You become a legal adult in North Korea at 17 and immediately receive one of two types of documents – identifying you as either a resident of Pyongyang or not. The type of ID will determine how much freedom of movement you are allowed. Most North Koreans cannot leave the county without the state’s permission but Pyongyang residents have fewer restrictions. This is also the age when all North Koreans will join the youth league, officially named the Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League. This organisation is a copy of the Soviet komsomol, however, unlike the USSR, membership is universal. Becoming an adult also means one has a duty to vote. Or rather, to go to the polling station, take a ballot with one name on it, bow to the leaders’ portraits and put the ballot in the box. This is voting in North Korea, and there has never been a single vote against the official candidate since 1958. [Source: Fyodor Tertitskiy for NK News, part of the North Korea network, The Guardian, December 22, 2015]

Leadership of North Korea

Technically, the North Korean government is still led by founder Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994 and serves as the country's Eternal President. By some reckonings with North Korea, not only is he the leader of North Korea but he is also the leader of South Korea. In practice the supreme leader leads the country and makes all decisions, supported by the Presidium, a smaller group of senior officials. The current leader of North Korea — Kim Jong Un — has been Supreme Leader of North Korea since 2011. He was officially declared Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army in December 2011 which cemented his control over North Korea. He became the Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea at a party congress in May 2016. Kim holds many titles and offices. Among his highest titles are General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. When he is mentioned in North Korean media and publications, he is most commonly referred to as "Respected Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong-un". [Source: Wikipedia]

North Korea is a classic example of the "rule of man." Overall, political management is highly personalized and is based on loyalty to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un and the Korean Workers' Party (KWP). The cult of personality, the nepotism of the Kim family, and the strong influence of former anti-Japanese partisan veterans and military leaders are unique features of North Korean politics. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993 *]

North Korea is a communist state under the one-man leadership of Kim Jong Il, chairman of the National Defense Commission — the nation’s “highest administrative authority,” supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), and general secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP). Kim was first appointed to the National Defense Commission by his father, President Kim Il Sung, in April 1993, and he was reelected to this position in 1998 and 2003. Despite the consolidation of party, state, and military structures under the leadership of one man, some analysts see these three power centers as rivals for power, with the military in the ascendant. [Source: Library of Congress, July 2007**]

In true dynastic fashion, Kim Jong Il groomed one of his sons — Kim Jong Un — as his successor. Signs of possible change in the leadership structure and succession scenario — or at least a reduction in Kim’s personality cult — emerged in the summer and fall of 2004, when reports were received that portraits of Kim Jong Il were being removed from public sites. The position of president ceased to exist with the elder Kim’s death in 1994. The premier has been head of government since April 2007

History of the North Korean Government

The holiday of National Liberation Day is celebrated on August 15. On this day in 1945, Korea achieved independence from Japan. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) was liberated from Japanese colonial rule by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II (1939-45). When Kim Il Sung, born April 15, 1912, returned to North Korea from the Soviet Union where he and his guerrillas had been based from 1941-45, the Soviet occupation forces in the northern part of the country presented him to the North Korean people as a hero. In mid-1993 Kim Il Sung was general secretary of North Korea's ruling party and president of the state. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993 *]

Although the Korean communist party dates from the 1920s, North Korea claims that the KWP was founded by Kim Il Sung in 1945. Since that time, North Korea has been under the one-party rule of the KWP. The party is by far North Korea's most politically significant entity; its preeminence in all spheres of society places it beyond the reach of dissent or disagreement. Party membership is composed of the "advanced fighters" among North Korea's working people: workers, peasants, and working intellectuals who struggle devotedly for the success of the socialist and communist cause. The KWP claimed a membership of "over three million" people in 1988. The ruling elite considers KWP members the major mobilizing and developmental cadres. In principle, every worker, peasant, soldier, and revolutionary element can join the party. Among KWP members, however, the military has a major political role, and all key military leaders have prestigious positions in top party organs.

The political system originally was patterned after the Soviet model. The party is guided by the concept of juche — "national self-reliance" in all activities. The essence of juche is to apply creatively the general principles of Marxism and Leninism in the North Korean way (woorisik-dero salja). Juche is a response to past political economic dependence. As historian DaeSook Suh has noted, juche is "not the philosophical exposition of an abstract idea; rather it is firmly rooted in the North Korean people and Kim Il Sung."

In the decades since the departure of Soviet occupation forces in 1948, and as the party leadership gradually has grown more confident in its management of various problems, the system has been somewhat modified in response to specific domestic circumstances. In April 1992, North Korea promulgated an amended constitution that deleted Marxism and Leninism as principal national ideas and emphasized juche. The constitutional revisions also granted supreme military power to the chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Il Sung.

According to the “Columbia Encyclopedia”:“ Until his death in 1994, all governmental institutions were controlled by Kim Il Sung (widely known as "The Great Leader" ), who had been premier and then president since the country's inception in 1948. A personality cult had glorified Kim, but by the mid-1990s the rapid economic growth of North Korea's early years had given way first to stagnation and then to hardship, and there was widespread dissatisfaction with the repressive totalitarian regime. Increasingly, Kim's son, Kim Jong Il, had assumed the day-to-day management of the government and, at Kim Il Sung's death in 1994, the son took over leadership of the country and, like his father, became the object of a personality cult. He was named secretary of the Communist party in 1997 and consolidated his power with the title of National Defense Commission chairman in 1998. [Source: “Columbia Encyclopedia”, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

Constitution of North Korea

Constitution: history: previous 1948, 1972; latest adopted 1998 (during Kim Jong Il era) Amendments are proposed by the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA); passage requires more than two-thirds majority vote of the total SPA membership. The constitution was revised in 2009, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2019. It formally recognizes the right of the Workers Party of Korea to run the country. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020]

The constitutions of North Korea have been patterned after those of other communist states. The constitutional framework delineates a highly centralized governmental system and the relationship between the people and the state. On December 27, 1972, the Fifth Supreme People's Assembly ratified a new constitution to replace the first constitution, promulgated in 1948. Innovations of the 1972 constitution included the establishment of the positions of president and vice presidents and a super-cabinet called the Central People's Committee (CPC). The 1972 constitution was revised in April 1992, and ratified by the Sixth Supreme People's Assembly. The South Korean press published unofficial translations of the document in late 1992. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993 *]

The revised constitution has 171 articles and seven chapters (twenty-two more and four less, respectively, than the 1972 constitution). Among the more significant changes are the elevation of juche at the expense of Marxism-Leninism, the removal of references to the expulsion of foreign troops, and the addition of articles encouraging joint ventures, guaranteeing the "legitimate rights and interests of foreigners," and establishing a framework for expanded ties with capitalist countries. More important, the new constitution provides a legal framework for the 1991 appointment of Kim Jong Il as supreme commander of the armed forces by removing the military from the command of the president and by placing the military under the control of the National Defense Commission, of which he is chairman. *

Main Articles of the 1972 North Korean Constitution

The eighteen articles of Chapter 1 deal with politics. Article 1 defines North Korea as an independent socialist state representing the interests of all the Korean people. Article 15 states that the DPRK defends the democratic, national rights of overseas Koreans and their legitimate rights under international law. Sovereignty emanates from four expressly mentioned social groups: workers, peasants, soldiers, and working intellectuals. State organs are organized on and operate on the principle of democratic centralism. In a change from the previous constitution, attaining "the complete victory of socialism in the northern half" was to be accomplished through the execution of the three revolutions of ideology, technology and culture, while struggling to realize unification of the fatherland by following the principles of independence, peaceful unification, and grand national unity. Previously socialism was to have been accomplished by driving out foreign forces on a countrywide scale and by reunifying the country peacefully on a democratic basis. Other articles in this chapter refer to the mass line, the Ch'ongsan-ni Method (or Ch'ongsan-ri) and spirit, and the Three Revolution Team Movement. The constitution states that foreign policy and foreign activities are based on the principles of independence, peace, and friendship. Diplomatic, political, economic, and cultural relations are to be established with all friendly countries based on the principles of complete equality, independence, mutual respect, noninterference in each other's internal affairs, and mutual benefit. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993 *]

In Chapter 2, economic affairs are codified. The constitution declares that the means of production are owned by state and cooperative organizations. The text reiterates that natural resources, major factories and enterprises, harbors, banks, and transportation and telecommunications establishments are state owned and that land, draft animals, farm implements, fishing boats, buildings, and small- and medium-sized factories and enterprises may be owned by cooperative organizations. Article 24 defines personal property as that for personal use by the working people for the purpose of consumption and derived from the "socialist distribution according to work done and from additional benefits received from the state and society." Benefits derived from supplementary pursuits, such as the small garden plots of collectivized farmers, are considered personal property; such benefits are protected by the state as private property and are guaranteed by law as a right of inheritance. The planned, national economy is directed and managed through the Taean Work System. *

Culture, education, and public health are covered in Chapter 3. Article 45 stipulates that the state develop a mandatory eleven-year education system, including one year of preschool education. Other articles state that education is provided at no cost and that scholarships are granted to students enrolled in colleges and professional schools. Education in nurseries and kindergartens is also at the state and society's expense. Article 56 notes that medical service is universal and free. Medical care and the right to education are also covered in Chapter 5 articles. Article 57 places environmental protection measures before production; this emphasis is in line with the attention given to preserving the natural environment and creating a "cultural and sanitary" living and working environment by preventing environmental pollution. *

Chapter 5 extensively details the fundamental rights and duties of citizens. Citizens over the age of seventeen may exercise the right to vote and be elected to office regardless of gender, race, occupation, length of residency, property status, education, party affiliation, political views, and religion. Citizens in the armed forces may vote or to be elected; insane persons and those deprived by court decisions of the right to vote do not have the right to vote and be elected. According to Article 67, citizens have freedom of speech, publication, assembly, demonstration, and association. Citizens also have the right to work, and Article 70 stipulates that they work according to their ability and are remunerated according to the quantity and quality of work performed. Article 71 provides for a system of working hours, holidays, paid leave, sanitoriums, and rest homes funded by the state, as well as for cultural facilities. Article 76 accords women equal social status and rights. Women are also granted maternity leave and shortened working hours when they have large families. Marriage and the family are protected by the state.

Chapter 6, entitled "State Institutions," has eighty articles and eight sections — more sections than any other chapter. The chapter covers the Supreme People's Assembly, the president of the DPRK, the National Defense Commission, the Central People's Committee, the State Administration Council, the local people's assemblies and people's committees, the local administrative and economic committees, and the court and the procurator's office. Chapter 7, which covers the national emblem, the flag, and capital, describes the first two items, designates Pyongyang as the capital, and names the national anthem. In a change from the previous constitution, the 1992 revision mandates that "the sacred mountain of the revolution" — Paektu-san — be added to the national emblem. It is to stand above the existing symbols: a hydroelectric power plant, the beaming light of a five-pointed red star, ovally framed ears of rice bound with a red band, and the inscription "Democratic People's Republic of Korea." *

Revised 2009 North Korean Constitution Drops Communism, Strengthens Leader’s Rule

In 2009, North Korea's revised it constitution, giving then leader Kim Jong-il more power as the state's supreme leader, highlighting his Songun, or military-first, politics and deemphasizing the importance of communism. The new constitution was adopted in April 2009 but kept secret to the outside until September of that year. The Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), the North's parliament, amended the constitution for the first time since 1998. [Source: Yonhap, October 1, 2009]

Yonhap reported:“Article 100 in the amended statutes state that the chairman of the National Defense Commission (NDC), a post held by Kim Jong-il since 1993, is the country's "supreme leader," an apparent bid to lend greater authority to Kim. While inarguably the most powerful figure in the reclusive socialist nation, the revisions mark the first official acknowledgement of this in the state's constitution. To clear away any doubt over Kim's paramount position, the newly revised constitution also places his military-first politics on the same level as the nation's founding ideology of "Juche," or self-reliance.

“Article 3 stipulates that North Korea "is guided in its activities by the Songun ideology and the Juche idea, a world outlook centered on people and a revolutionary ideology for achieving the independence of the masses." No references to Songun were made in the previous draft.

“New articles on the role and authority of the NDC chairman were also added to the constitution, which was revised in April amid reports that Kim's health was deteriorating and that he was preparing for a power transfer to his youngest son, Jong-un. Another revision states the chairman of the NDC "oversees all state affairs, appoints and dismisses major figures in the military sector, and also ratifies or abolishes important treaties with foreign nations." Article 103 stipulates the NDC chairman also maintains the right to issue special pardons and declare state emergencies.

“Experts say this year's amendments solidify Kim's authority over national affairs, expanding them from the previous constitution that stipulated the chairman's authority only over military and defense affairs. The amended constitution also stipulates that the tenure of the NDC chairman coincides with the term of the SPA, although Kim has been consistently re-elected to the post since he was first appointed. Members of the North's unicameral legislature are elected to five-year terms, with the latest election having taken place earlier this year.

“The 1998 draft of the constitution stated that "Socialism and Communism are built by the creative labor of the working masses." The new constitution drops the use of the term communism while retaining the term "socialism." While South Korean officials said they were still analyzing the changes, a North Korean official explained the revisions were based on Kim Jong-il's will to bolster socialism in his nation. The official said that under Kim's orders the North no longer promotes communism. The leader said recently that he will "work on socialism in earnest," while characterizing communism as "hard to fulfill." "Communism is impossible to hold onto," Kim was quoted by the official as saying. "But I can properly do socialism." When asked to elaborate, the official explained, "Communism is meant to have a one-class society which does not distinguish the class that exploits from the one that is exploited. But it is hard for the system to exist as long as American imperialism persists."

“For the first time, the revised constitution also stipulates that the country promotes human rights. It states that the regime "respects and protects" the human rights of its citizens, a claim experts say reflects a change in Pyongyang's tactic in dealing with the international community's unrelenting condemnation of its human rights abuses. "The State respects and protects the human rights of the workers, peasants and working intellectuals who have been freed from exploitation and oppression and have become masters of the State and society," according to Article 8 of the constitution. The earlier vision only stated that the North "defends and protects" the peoples' "interests."

Pundits here said North Korea seems to be taking a preemptive step to counter the world's criticism of its human rights record. "North Korea has been largely on the defensive so far. Now, it appears to be attempting to show to the world that it is trying to address the human rights issue in a preemptive manner," Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said.

Symbols and Flag of North Korea

The North Korean flag has three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in white; on the hoist side of the red band is a white disk with a red five-pointed star. [Source: Library of Congress, July 2007**]

The two blue stripes signify sovereignty, peace, and friendship; the red stripe stands for socialism and revolutionary traditions, and the narrow white bands stand for purity, strength, and dignity of the North Korean ideals. The five-pointed red star represents socialism and indicates the leadership of the Korean Workers’ Party. The white disc surrounding the star suggests the traditional symbol for the universe — T’aeguk [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020]

The main national symbols of North Korea are the A red star and chollima (winged horse). The national colors are red, white and blue.According to “Countries and Their Cultures”:The national symbols, such as the national emblem and flag, were all created in 1948 or thereafter.” But arguably the biggest symbols are Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il anf Kim Jong Un. “North Koreans are strongly loyal to Kim Il Sung's family, and often refer to North Korea as "one big revolutionary family" with Kim Il Sung as household head. On public occasions, every individual in North Korea wears a Kim Il Sung badge on the upper left side of the chest as a proof of loyalty; this practice continues even after Kim Il Sung's death. The type of badge one wears reflects one's status. It is almost impossible to see a North Korean not wearing a Kim Il Sung badge. The badge has become an important national symbol. [Source: “Countries and Their Cultures”, The Gale Group Inc., 2001]

National Anthem of North Korea

The name of the national anthem is "Aegukka" (Patriotic Song).The lyrics are by Pak Se Yong and the music is by Kim Won Gyun. Aopted in 1947, both North Korea's and South Korea's anthems share the same name and have a vaguely similar melody but have different lyrics; the North Korean anthem is also known as "Ach'imun pinnara" (Let Morning Shine) [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020]

On a performance of the New York Philharmonic in North Korea,Moon Sung Hwee of the Daily NK wrote: The Philharmonic began with the sublime melody of North Korea's national anthem, "Aegukga (Patriotic Song)” at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater with the performance simultaneously broadcast on national television. The New York Philharmonic played North Korea’s national anthem on a stage displaying the flags of both the United States and North Korea. After performing North Korea’s national song, the Philharmonic followed with the U.S. anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The audience stood during both anthems and held their applause until both had been performed. [Source: Moon Sung Hwee, Daily NK, March 11, 2008]

“One distinctive point of the performance, however, was that North Korean citizens did not bow or put their hands on their chest in a sign of respect when the New York Philharmonic performed the national anthem of North Korea on the stage displaying the North Korean flag. Lee Il Sun, a North Korean defector, said: "People don't sing the national anthem in North Korea, They teach ‘Aegukga’ to the second year students of a primary school but do not give a special meaning to it" Lee said. "For North Korean citizens” Lee said, the "Patriotic Song" is not held in particularly high esteem. “Actually, there are only a few people who know the lyrics of the ‘Aegukga’ among North Korean defectors"

The “Aegukga” that North Korea adopted was a newly-written piece in 1947. The words were written by the poet, Pak Se Young, who crossed over into North Korea in the summer of 1946, and the music was composed by Kim Won Gyun who is also the composer of the ‘Song to General Kim Il Sung’ in 1947. Aegugka is also clearly stated in article 170 of the North Korean Constitution as the national anthem of North Korea.

North Korea, however, only performs “Aegukga” at the beginning of radio and TV broadcasting. Apart from those rare occasions, “Aegukga” is only played when chiefs of state or the presidents of foreign countries pay a formal visit to North Korea. The latest time that the national anthem was played in North Korea was when Vladimir Putin, the former president of Russia, visited Pyongyang on the 19th of July, 2000. According to protocol, the national anthem of North Korea was performed along with that of Russia.

"Song of General Kim Il Sung”: Real National Song of North Korea

"Song of General Kim Il Sung" is North Korea's real anthem. In the early 1980s Kim Jong-il began promoting the song and it has since replaced "Aegukka", the national anthem, as the most important song played in public gatherings in the country. North Koreans typically know the lyrics by heart. According to “Countries and Their Cultures”: Due to the worship of the longtime national leader, songs that praise Kim Il Sung have more or less replaced the anthem. With the rise of Kim Il Sung's son, Kim Jong Il, to public office, two songs, each praising Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, began to be sung in public meetings. [Source: “Countries and Their Cultures”, The Gale Group Inc., 2001]

Moon Sung Hwee of the Daily NK wrote: “It has been reported that North Korea had abandoned ‘Aegukga’ in October 1980, when Kim Jong Il was selected as the official successor of Kim Il Sung at the Sixth Convention of the Workers’ Party. Kim Jong Il replaced “Aegukga” with the “Song of General Kim Il Sung” at all national ceremonies. After the death of Kim Il Sung in 1997, the “Song to General Kim Jong Il” was also meant to be sung at official ceremonies as well. People in North Korea also sing “Without You (Kim Jong Il), There Will Be No Us” at the end of each ceremony. "For the North Korean people, it doesn’t matter not to know the lyrics of ‘Aegukga,’” Lee said. "But it will become a big problem if they do not clearly know the lyrics of the ‘Song to General Kim Il Sung’ or the ‘Song of General Kim Jong Il’” he said. [Source: Moon Sung Hwee, Daily NK, March 11, 2008]

“When I was in North Korea, in April 1997,” Lee said, “there was a sudden inspection from the brigade when the ‘Song of General Kim Jong Il’ was just propagated into the country. Some of the military companies that couldn’t remember the complete lyrics of the song were severely blamed for and the commanders were demoted for their collective responsibility”

“At this performance, the North Korean audience did not show their respects to the flag during the performance of the North Korean national song.” explained Kim Young Sae, former officer of the Party. “A couple of years ago when a North Korean cheering group paid a visit to South Korea they also did not bow to their flag and national anthem. That concept just isn’t on their mind” he said.

Refusal to Play the South Korean National Anthem

Moon Sung Hwee of the Daily NK wrote: “ North Korea rejects the playing of the South Korean ”Aegukga” and the hosting of the Taegeukgi at the 2010 World Cup preliminary match in Pyongyang because “North Koreans would be tremendously shocked, if they watch the people in colonized South Korea singing Aegukga and shouting out ‘Dae Han Min Guk (the Republic of Korea).’” said Kim.

North Korea steadfastly remains against playing the South Korea anthem, ”Aegukga” and hosting the South’s flag, the Taegeukgi, even though the 2010 World Cup preliminary match is supposed to be held in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Related to this issue, Kim Chul Hyoung, a North Korean defector, said, “If there is a match in Pyongyang, North Korea would not accept the Taegeukgi, ‘Aegukga and cheering squad from South Korea as well.”

He explained the reason is that “North Korea propagated that South Korea is the colony of the imperialistic U.S. and the people in South Korea are only waiting for the day that they can live worshiping Kim Jong Il, the sun of the nation,”.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.

Text Sources: UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, Daily NK, NK News, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, Yomiuri Shimbun, The Guardian and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2021

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