Foreign observers chuckle at the North Korean personality cult, but when it touts the centrality of Kim Il Sung’s Juche Thought, they see no reason for skepticism. Researchers at top American universities quote from Kim’s colonial-era Juche speeches, which were not “discovered” until the 1970s, as if they were actual historical documents. But Pyongyang-watchers share North Korean tour-guides' reluctance to explain Juche. The standard practice is to breeze through its trite maxims – “man is the master of all things,” etc – before jumping to the real-world policy-making they somehow “translate into.” Thin though it may be, however, outsiders’ knowledge of the humanist pseudo-doctrine is sufficient to function as a cheese-cloth through which they view the reality. An implacable xenophobia rooted in Japanese race-theory is thus misperceived as a philosophically-grounded state-nationalism or patriotism compatible with Marxism-Leninism. In this way the Juche fallacy sustains the misperception of North Korea -- one of the most race-obsessed, most highly militarized countries in world history -- as a last bastion of what the LA Times calls “undiluted communism.” Juche is, in short, the reddest of red herrings. In today’s lecture, Brian Myers will present a preview of his upcoming book, explaining how the regime launched the Juche myth in 1967, how it won the West, and how it continues to serve Pyongyang's interests.The lecture will be held at 7:30 pm tonight (Tuesday) in the Residents' Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Somerset Palace in Seoul, which is behind Jogyesa Temple, and is 7,000 won for non-members and free for members.
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