Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Asian Studies

First Advisor's Name

Thomas A. Breslin

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Steven Heine

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Amy Bliss Marshall

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


North Korea, juche, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, personality cult, cult of personality, Korean history, Korea, nationalism, history, self-reliance, supreme leader, suryong, Korean War, Soviet Union, jucheist

Date of Defense



Juche ideology, created by founder Kim Il-Sung, governs all aspects of North Korean society. This thesis attempts to answer the questions of why and how Juche ideology and the cult of personality surrounding Kim Il-Sung were successfully implemented in North Korea. It is a historical analysis of the formation of the North Korean state that considers developments from the late 19th century to the late 20th century, with particular attention paid to the 1950s-1970s and to Kim’s own writings and speeches. The thesis argues that Juche was successfully implemented and institutionalized in North Korea due to several factors, including the rise of Korean nationalism, the personal history of Kim Il-Sung, the Korean War and resulting domestic strife, and the influence of the international socialist movement. It provides a historical explanation of Juche and its importance within North Korea, which in turn is necessary for understanding North Korea as a whole.





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