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The Sun Sort-of Rises: The “Strong and Prosperous” Slogan in Recent North Korean Fiction
Region: Asia
Theme: Culture
Location: Korea, North
Published December 4, 2018
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Kim Jong-un’s sudden ascent as leader came at a significant time for North Korea—a year that had coincidentally been long foreshadowed in state media as the “dawn of the strong and prosperous era.” Yet the new leader had different priorities and a different idea of what strength and prosperity looked like than his forebears, and this has resulted in notable changes to lifestyle and landscape. In a state notoriously resistant to policy changes, propaganda tools such as state fiction were able to repurpose the existing “strong and prosperous” slogan to lend legitimacy to new initiatives and social trends encouraged by the new leadership. Through a thematic analysis of new North Korean fiction, this paper examines how “strong and prosperous” and related buzzwords have been tied to changes in architecture, culture, science and technology, leisure, entertainment, and daily living. In addition to the author’s close reading of recent North Korean literature, this research draws upon analysis by leading South Korean analysts of North Korean literature and the testimony of North Korean defectors.

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