Military-First Politics (Songun): Understanding Kim Jong-il's North Korea
As one might say that, without a proper understanding of juche, Kim Il-sung’s North Korea cannot be comprehended, one might also say that a proper understanding of Kim Jong-il’s North Korea is impossible without a proper comprehension of songun. Juche and songun are inseparable in that songun is predicated on the principles of juche. The Songun theoreticians claim that songun has advanced juche to a higher plane by providing it with a realistic perspective on the history and politics of the world. Just as in the case of juche, songun is said to be in a constant process of evolving toward its perfection. At present, there are limited written sources available in any language for a researcher to discern its definitive picture. Yet, by consulting available publications from North Korea and conducting a series of personal interviews with scholars who are the leading advancers and theoreticians of this system of ideas, one might be able to portray the essence of its philosophical and theoretical attributes. It is hoped that the following pages may be of some help to observers of North Korea in explaining the system characteristics and policy behaviors of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) under Kim Jong-il.