Many news analysts have recently observed that North Korea is not so much a “Communist state” as it is a personality-driven “cult.”
A dictatorial dynasty rules the country, which was first established by the current leader’s father
Noted psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, once studied the methodology of “education” used by North Korea within prisoner of war camps in the fifties. His conclusions were published within his seminal book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.
What can easily be seen from Lifton’s writings is that North Korea has a long-standing and well-established expertise in what is commonly called “brainwashing.”
Its absolute authoritarian leader, Kim Jong Il, known now as “Great Leader,” controls all the media, military and environment. Lifton calls this “milieu control,” which is the foundation for a thought reform program.
Something called “Juche,” is the detailed dogma or ideology used to control the North Korean population, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
Lifton calls such an ideology the “Sacred Science” of Totalism.
Like many cult leaders Kim has exploited his followers, it is estimated that he holds $2 to $4 billion dollars in European banks. He also lives lavishly, while most of his people go hungry. During the 1990s mass starvation took the lives of 2 million in North Korea.
But North Koreans are still officially called “Kim Il Sung’s people.”
This is what Lifton calls “Doctrine over Person.” That is, when the group uses its dogma to supercede and blur individual identity.
Kim’s regime is certainly a closed system not easily permeated by outside ideas; the country can be seen as little more than a giant cult compound.
One expert says that North Korea has “carefully constructed illusions.” And such cultic “illusions” often whither when subjected to an outside frame of reference and the free exchange of ideas.
According to recent reports there is now some critical “whispering” about the “Great Leader” within his nation compound. Perhaps “Kim Il Sung’s people” are beginning to consider the possibility of a future without a cult leader.
Lifton has written extensively about cults and “cult formation.” He lists three primary hallmarks that define a destructive cult.
1. A charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
2. a process I call coercive persuasion or thought reform;
3. economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.
Sounds just like North Korea.