Talk:Politics of North Korea

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"Social Democratic Centralism" versus "Communism"

So - what is "Democratic Centralism" supposed to mean? Especially with respect to North Korea?

(Above comment contributed by
See Democratic centralism. "Communist with some democratic trappings" isn't accurate. There is a significant difference between socialism and communism, and just because the word "democratic" appears in a technical term doesn't make it mean the same thing as Democracy. So, re-labelling North Korea this way is innacurrate at best and biased at worst. Saxifrage () [[]] 09:53, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I'm using the more common usages of the terms socialism and communism (as political systems). I would argue that North Korea definitely falls into the communist category. However, you may being using the more technical definintion of communism as when the situation when the "state has withered away", which although technically accurate, doesn't reflect its common usage. If so, I think this needs to be clarified.

As the article is about the technical subject of the political structure of North Korea, it is entirely inappropriate to use common terms, especially since the "common" understanding of "communism" is very different from country to country. For instance, in the USA communism is considered a very bad thing, whereas in Canada (which is a social democratic country), communism is seen as just another political system but not one they have any use for. The article specifically needs to not be biased toward just the American view of North Korea.
If you're not yet familiar with Wikipedia's Neutral point of view policies, I encourage you to skim it or the NPOV tutorial. Something that would be closer to NPOV would be to add a section that goes into detail about what North Korea's allies and enemies perceive their political system to really be about. The NPOV policy frowns on removing good information when trying to balance an article, in favour of adding more and using neutral language. Saxifrage () [[]] 23:29, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think it is useful to be able to distinguish between the government of Sweeden or the policies of the (Old) Labour party (UK) and the Soviet Union. Besides, avoiding the word "Communism" because it is considered a bad thing in the US makes no more sense than avoiding the word "Homosexuality" (on a different subject) because it is considered a bad thing in Nigeria. Besides, every external surce I've seen refers to NK as Communist. Incidently, if you don't regard NK as communist, is there any country at any point that you would call communist? I have read the NPOV description and may I suggest that the Official Website of the NK government is not an unbiased source.

Sweden isn't a "social democratic centralist" country and neither do the Labour Party's polices fit that label. I agree that it's useful to make a distinction though, which is why I'm arguing for keeping the current wording that makes a distinction between communism in the common sense and communism in the correct sense. Communism is a technical term for "a type of egalitarian society with no state, no private property and no social classes." North Korea isn't communist. The Soviet Union started out that way. For that matter, the USA is not a democracy, though it's called one: it's a republic. The fact that various terms have been conflated doesn't justify replacing good, technical information with blanket terms that are misused. Saxifrage () [[]] 16:48, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
They are often described as Socialist, which was my point. There is no point in having an encyclopedia entry that would only make sense to a political scientist and, given the more common usages of the terms, be positively misleading to anyone else.
The enclyclopedia entry doesn't stand by itself, that's the whole point of having links to relevant pages that explain the terms and concepts used. If we call North Korea "communist" and someone goes and looks up communism, we will be misinforming them. Pandering to common misconceptions is a mistake. — Saxifrage |  01:07, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)
That's why the communist part linked to the "communist state" page, not the "communism" one. You really do have to pander to common misconceptions about technical terms if you want to comunicate to a layman. Incidently, what word would you use to describe the economic policies of (old) labour and the sweedish government? - Jinx
No, we don't have to pander to common misconceptions. Actually, we must not pander to common misconceptions, especially when they're geographically limited. The understanding of communism which you advocate only exists in some of North America and some even smaller parts of Europe. This is an international encyclopædia and has policies in place to ensure that it remains unbiased by individual Points Of View.
Specifically, we need to "avoid POV comments about other countries", and when contentious information is presented, that it be put in context and cited properly. Both these points are objections I have had with your edits. Please review the policies that Wikipedia runs under and try to conform to them, or we'll be here until the end of days arguing definitions on which other people have already reached consensus.
I'm not sure why you're bringing up the Labour Party and Sweden. They're socialist, sure, but that's a broad term that actually contains communism too: see Branches of Socialism. If you're worried about distinguishing between Sweden and North Korea in terms of their political structure, that supports my case that we need to use proper technical definitions and avoid conflating terms that mean very different things. — Saxifrage |  11:14, Dec 24, 2004 (UTC)

To quote the NPOV guidelines: "The neutral point of view policy is easily misunderstood. The policy doesn't assume that it's possible to write an article from just a single unbiased, "objective" point of view. The policy says that we should fairly represent all sides of a dispute, and not make an article state, imply, or insinuate that any one side is correct." In other words, it is necessary to give all sides of an argument, not just one side (in this case, the NK side), as for 'western' countries, do you consider Japan and South Korea to be 'western'? Can you point to a source that gives a non-western and non-NK view of NK that regards it differently from these two viewpoints? - Jinx

Thanks for reading that. Yes, it's true that we can't eliminate bias, but there's more to it than that. Another common misunderstanding of NPOV is that including all sides means giving them all equal space/weight to make the article "balanced". In actuality, "fairly" representing a side means giving it as much weight as it has in the real world: "Different views don't all deserve equal space... the amount of space they deserve depends on their importance... an idea's popularity alone does not determine its importance". For instance, when discussing the planet Earth it is noted as being round, and the Flat Earth Society is not given any mention because their view is so tiny rejected by experts: mentioning them at all gives their view an unfair amount of coverage compared to the real-world esteem of the idea. For this article, the common side of non-experts is already addressed in the article, in an appropriate amount of space, by the paragraph dealing with the confusion between socialism and communism.
However, I no longer think that it is enough, as there's more to NK's relationship with communism than just that common misconception. I'm afraid that knowing of the large misconception blinded me to seeing the seed of (what seems to be) truth from which it springs. I took the opportunity that this quiet time on the talk page offered and I've been educating myself on the labyrinth of communist and communist-derived theory—it does appear that democratic centralism is related. Apparently, it's a subsection of Leninism, Leninism itself being a form of communism. Since democratic centralism isn't communism all by itself, only part of one branch of communist theory, I'm not sure how it should be incorporated into the article.
So, in sum, you have convinced me that a mention of NK's government being derived from a part of communist theory is necessary, at least. Do you agree with my reasoning? If you do, we can move on to deciding how to fit it in. If you don't, well, tell me why. :-)  — Saxifrage |  19:13, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)
I agree that we need to describe it. Additionally, according to a friend:
"The labels "Communism" for these countries were self-selected - The "Communist International" is the name of the movement that Lenin and the Bolsheviks created, splitting off from the Socialist movement in 1919. They referred to their government by that term.
"Any government derived from Lenin's successors is termed Communism, regardless of the earlier usage of the term from Marx's utopian writings. This wasn't american labelling, this was their own term for themselves."
Well, your friend's a bit confused. The Bolsheviks and those in the Comintern called themselves "communists", just as Marx did. But communists never called e.g. the Soviet Union "communist" (or "Communist"), thus the term "communist country" for these nations is a distinctly American (or Western) invention. Communists call these nations "socialist" (or "People's Republics", in some cases) - that is, unless they believe them to be capitalist in disguise. Also, it's incorrect to say that Communists split off from the Socialist movement. Communists split from the Social-Democratic parties, in imitation of the Bolsheviks - who officially called themselves the Social-Democratic Worker's Party (or something close to that) until some time after the soviet revolution. In reality, it was the Social-Democratic parties that slowly left the socialist movement. --MQDuck 07:00, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
Can you run down a source on this. According to my Oxford English Dictionary (in a box after the technical definition):
"The most familiar form of communism is that established by the Bolsheviks adter the Russian Revolution of 1917, and it has generally been understood in terms of the system practiced by the former USSR and its allies in eastern Europe, in China since 1949, and in some developing countries such as Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea.
"Communism embraced a revolutionary ideaology in which the state would wither away after the overthrow of the capitalist system. In practice, however, the state grew to control all aspects of communist society. Communism in eastern Europe collapsed in the late 1980s and early 1990s against a background of failure to meet people's economic expecations, a shift to more democracy in political life, and increased nationalism such as that which led to the break-up of the USSR."
Well firstly, North Korea self-identifies (for all I know) as "Socialist and Democratic Centralist", which was part of the original argument against those terms. As far as I know, NK hasn't self-identified as communist. I can't find any source to corroborate your friend's statements, but I think they're not addressing the right problem.
Secondly, what the OED, a western dictionary, says is "generally ... understood" isn't a very good source if we want to say that NK is communist. At best we could say that "the OED claims that NK is generally understood to be communist." We're already saying that most of the Western world considers NK communist, though, so that'd be redundant.
As for "any government derived from Lenin's successors", that's the distinction I was wondering about with Democratic centralism: it's not a descendent of communism, only a part of Leninism. Democratic centralism isn't a kind of communism, is the how I see the problem. If it's not a kind of communism, and NK isn't communist in any other respect, can we technically call them communist?  — Saxifrage |  08:59, Jan 11, 2005 (UTC)

I did not use the OED as a source on North Korea. I used it as a source on English language usage. - Jinx

I think we've already extensively covered the reasons why it's inappropriate to use a "generally understood" meaning of a term in a technical context.
Further, you've gone and made more non-NPOV edits while ignoring this Talk page. I'm going to revert, and I'll explain why here.
  1. Democratic Centralism is not a form of Leninism, it is a feature of Leninism (and others). Nobody would say that a fuel pump is a kind of passenger plane even though it is part of a passenger plane; it is just as much an error to say that democratic centralism is a kind of Leninism.
  2. Pointing out that a few days is insufficient to debate laws is spoon feeding the reader, which is frowned upon in the best of circumstances and is highly inappropriate when there is the possibility of inserting POV into an article. Wikipedia is concerned with facts and explicitly avoids any analysis.
 — Saxifrage |  22:18, Jan 24, 2005 (UTC)

The Eternal President

I find the current and past wording of the sentence about the Eternal President problematic. It used to read "The Eternal Korean President is Kim Il Sung, a title given posthumously as a recognition of his great achievements" but currently reads "The Eternal Korean President is Kim Il Sung, a title given posthumously." The problem is that the original wording implies that he did have great achievements, but this is very POV unless we go into detail. However, leaving that off and just saying that he is the Eternal President doesn't explain what the heck that means, or why he has that title. It needs to explain the importance of elevating someone to such a high title (and it is high, no matter what you think of their politics) without implying anything about the validity of that title, which could be disputed. Saxifrage () [[]] 23:40, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

How about words to the effect of "The Eternal Korean President, a title given posthumously in recognition of great acheivement, is Kim Il Sung", restucturing the predicative emphasis --Nema Fakei 18:35, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. However, I am unsure of what Eternal President is supposed to mean. The nearest equivalent I've been able to think of is to compare it with the Roman practice of deifying dead emperors. I think you may regard this comparison as non-NPOV


I made some edits which I feel some might regard as provacative or POV. However, the government of North Korea is widely regarded as a dictatorship of Kim Jong Il and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to have his or her head examined. If you think prison camps (i.e. concentration camps) are nice little facilities, you've got another thing coming. But seriously, this article is a little too nice to the world's most totalitarian state. So I made it show that this isn't some little parliamentary democracy.--User:naryathegreat | (talk) 01:58, Apr 3, 2005 (UTC)

NPOV dispute: If no one objects within 2 weeks, I am going to remove the notice.--User:naryathegreat | (talk) 02:39, Apr 3, 2005 (UTC)
I like the changes in the article. They are critical of NK without coming off as Western-dogmatic.
I do think that democratic centralism needs to be linked from this article somehow, as that is the official political philosophy and is the reason why the minority party members are legally bound to accept KWP decisions. However it is included, though, it must be in a context where the reader isn't lead to believe that democratic centralism has anything to do with general democracy. Otherwise, it's just a lightning rod for dispute.  — Saxifrage |  20:09, Apr 3, 2005 (UTC)
I think it already is. I understand the principle and I included it in the second sentence. If you think it needs to be highlighted better then by all means say so (or you could edit it and show me what you mean). I personally think the brief mention of it is enough. The KWP's inner party democracy is more on Stalin's level than Lenin's.--User:naryathegreat | (talk) 02:47, Apr 4, 2005 (UTC)
Whups, no, my bad for missing it.  — Saxifrage |  02:50, Apr 4, 2005 (UTC)

Wrong names: "North Korea" and "Korean Workers' Party"

"North Korea" is a wrong and insulting term, since it refers to the northern half of the Korean peninsula in a geographical sense, not the state named DPRK. The DPRK and its people normally see the term "North Korea" as insulting one which means the denial of the DPRK as a state.

And the name "Korean Workers' Party" is also wrong. In the official documents the governming party of the DPRK is always referred to as the "Workers' Party of Korea". Everton 12:31, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

I concur. The country has a name. It's like calling the United States Mid North America. Let us call the nation by its name. Thecunninglinguists 14:06, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

Your dispute does not belong here, but rather at North Korea. The policy of what to call a country throughout Wikipedia belongs at that country's article. If you are waging a campaign to have it changed there already, I suggest that it undermines your position to be waging the campaign here—some might see it as an attempt to get the change in by the side door.  — Saxifrage |  19:07, August 5, 2005 (UTC)


--Charlestustison 06:07, 26 September 2005 (UTC) Moved some lines from Executive power to the first section. They were not related to executive power. Also removed the line about north Korea being isolated because of Juche. North Korea is isolated because it is a totalitarian state that doesn't tolerate dissent.

I think that sentence should be put back in. Note that it said that N.K. is isolationist and it didn't say, as you seem to have read it, isolated. They are isolationist—a political stance that a government may take—because of Juche. Whether they are, in fact, isolated and why isn't treated on in the article.  — Saxifrage |  01:03, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

US version of Human rights

Im thinking that the US human rights watch is not a reliable resource in issues concerning a past combatant. The US DID lose the war with North Korea so of course it IS going to slander it as much as possible. Thus why i put the POV tag up there. PLEASE people, use FACT not your own opinions on wikipedia. Jeremy D. 19:57, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

I've made the source of that statement clear in the article, so that it does not sound like Wikipedia is endorsing the source beyond a simple "these people said this". Does that address your concern about the neutrality of the article? — Saxifrage 05:41, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
That is incorrect Jeremy, North Korea lost the war. They invaded South Korea, but were eventually beaten back after suffering huge losses, and leaving many of their Southern brothers dead. It was only the actions of the Chinese army that pervented them from being utterly destroyed. Please, use facts, not your own opinion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:33, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

North Korea Government

In this month's Atlantic Monthly it stated that North Korea is currently in a state of feudalsim. Local party officials and military officers control many small areas out of the supervision of the central government. This seems to be important as it indicates that the "dead leader's" regime has lost some of its power. Sound and Fury 22:13, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Separation of Powers

The suggestion that in the DPRK there is little separation of powers "as in the UK" is laughable. North Korea has minimal rule of law, with a complete submission of all legal, moral and political standards to the whims of the régime. The relationship between the executive, judiciary and legislative is nothing like that of the UK - Blair does not appoint all the MPs, hand-pick every judge and lawyer, nor is the Opposition shot for criticising him!

Fair use rationale for Image:Kim Jong il.jpg

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Image:Kim Jong il.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

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If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

« Gonzo fan2007 (talkcontribs) 01:39, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Cabinet Positions

I noticed that the individual listed as currently holding the position of foreign secretary is actually dead. Perhaps this section needs a comprehensive revision by someone versed in the topic. Nickmuddle (talk) 15:06, 14 May 2008 (UTC)


Hmm, well I havn't edited wiki for a long time mainly because I'm tired of seeing ridiculour bias. I mean, are people in this world capable of saying anything other than what they're told by their media? This is probably going to be considered irrelevant but am I the only person who finds it frustrating that people just paraphrase what their told?

Anyway, my point is that this article is ridiculously biased. "widely considered"? What exactly does that mean. The reader may take that to mean that almost all nations are opposed to North Korea's actions. Why is it that only the USA's opinion counts when it comes to discussing politics. Oh, yeah! It must be because they are a "democracy". And no, I am not particularly against democracy for that matter.--HandGrenadePins (talk) 21:42, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Eternal Presidency and executive assent

I heard a rumour that when bills are signed into law they are signed in Kim Il-Sung's name. If this were true it'd be good for the page on the eternal president.

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