North Korea’s Politics of Longing

Author: Heonik Kwon


Kim Il Sung's death in 1994 was a critical event in modern North Korea. This article examines how the North Korean state has struggled to reinvent itself since the death event; in particular, how it has faced the challenging task of turning the country's founding hero and supreme leader into a physically absent yet spiritually omnipresent ancestral figure. The article focuses on the norms of commemoration and ideas of kinship that have emerged in the process of national bereavement, partly in relation to the existing characterization of the North Korean polity as a family or neo-Confucian state.

Regions: East Asia
Countries: Korea

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