Michael Malice knows a little something about the Hermit Kingdom. He visited recently and returned to write a book of subtlety and dark humor titled Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Biography of Kim Jong Il. In it, Malice ghost writes for the ghost of the former Dear Leader. Readers interested in our ethos understand that giving people “voice” and options for “exit” are healthy for human flourishing. But the North Korean leadership thinks a bit differently about matters. Michael Malice says:
Juche is the guiding philosophy for North Korea (DPRK). According to them, the Juche idea is the guiding light for the 21st century. It roughly means national independence and self-reliance, moving one’s own nation forward through one’s own efforts. In another sense, Juche is a term akin to “Smurf”: It means whatever you want it to, and in practice works out to “that which Kim Il Sung and/or Kim Jong Il likes.” That’s why they have such things as Juche fabric and Juche magic tricks and Juche literature.
One person’s national independence is another’s authoritarian regime. In any case, the DPRK is a fascinating case study of the closed society, not to mention the kind of indoctrination and brutality required to keep one lumbering along 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
When asked what he would say if he could send a message to every single North Korean person, Malice replied: “I’d rather send them food or money, to be honest. Talk is cheap.”
Michael Malice has agreed to speak at Voice & Exit 2014.