Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What is Juche? The "Religion" of North Korea

I had never heard of this before. But it has more adherents than Judaism.


Gregory said...

Here is Chesterton's reply to "Juche":

"Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world. Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it. The publisher said of somebody, 'That man will get on; he believes in himself'. And I remember that as I lifted up my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written 'Hanwell'. I said to him, 'Shall I tell you where the men are who most believe in themselves. For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. In know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Supermen. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.'"

...and North Korea. Although it's very difficult to distinguish North Korea from a lunatic asylum these days...but they are both "institutions", to say the least.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Sounds like a political ideology, a branch of communism, more than a religion. Just because an ideology has state support and is indoctrinated into youth doesn't make it a religion. Seems neither necessary nor sufficient to be a religion.

Side question: I was at the Y the other day saying something about H. sapiens (don't ask). Some dude comes up angry and says 'I'm not a Homo Sapien, I'm a human being!' Obviously Christian, as we talked further, he was not the most informed person I've ever met.

I tried to convince him he was both to no avail. Is this some doctrine in certain Christian churches? Does the label 'H sapien' imply support of Darwinism or something, in some people's eyes? (I could have mentioned the term was coined 150 years before Darwin, but that probably wouldn't have mattered).

Anyway, is that a thing? Saying you aren't a H sapien?

Tim said...


I'd have been tempted to say, "Okay, so you're homo non-sapiens, then?" But probably it wouldn't have gone anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

Just speculating here, but perhaps the person you were talking to was confusing "homo sapiens" with "homosexual", and he didn't want to be associated with that?

In any case, I've never come across opposition to the term. But your take on it possibly being anti-Darwinism is interesting.

Blue Devil Knight said...

LOL Tim. Yes, that would have gone over great. :)

The awkward thing was it was in the steam room.

Bob, it wasn't that. It was an aversion to being categorized as a biological kind, a mere species among many I think. He said "I am a Christian, I am not a H sapien."

Good to know it isn't common. My wife just told me she has encountered it in more rural parts of North Carolina, so maybe it is a local thing, the aversion to being a H sapien.

Anonymous said...


Didn't Sarah Palin, when visiting North Carolina, make some comment about being glad to be back in "Real America" (instead of, one would presume, those other states inhabited by homo sapiens).

Victor Reppert said...

I think this person is a homo sapiens, and knows it, but is having trouble admitting it publicly. He's just not ready to come out yet.

Jason Pratt said...

I've never heard of the 'sapiens' rejection either; but I could see it being the outcome of criticisms of evolutionary anthropology. For example, if Neanderthals have turned out to have less genetic variance from Homo Sapiens than most of us have with each other, to the degree that up to 4% of Europeans are now thought to be 100% Neanderthal, then while there might be a morphological distinction of some sort there wouldn't seem to be much point in distinguishing between the types as species.

Collapse backward through other proposals of parallel and/or proto-humanity under critique for not being distinct enough from h.sapiens to warrant being listed as alternative human species, and the final result would be at least a rhetorical assertion that h.sapiens doesn't exist in tacit distinction from other humans.

It should be obvious why and how YEC proponents would pick up that kind of critique and run with it. I haven't personally seen any of them promoting that yet, but I know several proponents who come close enough that they could putt-in that way pretty easily.


Jason Pratt said...

It's worth pointing out that if, say, Neanderthals really do still exist in the human population, then distinguishing them on any level beyond morphological type could easily lead to racism. Or worse. The objection that someone isn't h.sapiens but human, could be considered protection of a minority by a majority.

Imagine if someone fitting Neanderthal morphology (and I've seen numerous Europeans myself who sure seem to!) came up and said, "I am not a Neanderthal! I am a human being!" That would be easily seen (within the context of a racial minority) as a declaration of rights that ought to be accepted.


Jason Pratt said...

Meanwhile, Wikipedia has a pretty balanced article on Juche. (Getting back to the main topic. {g})

Gregory's reply via Chesterton looks (at least humorously) appropriate.


Brandon said...

Sounds like a political ideology, a branch of communism, more than a religion. Just because an ideology has state support and is indoctrinated into youth doesn't make it a religion. Seems neither necessary nor sufficient to be a religion.

With Juche things aren't quite so simple, though; Juche is a political ideology that claims to offer socio-political immortality (the only kind of immortality it recognizes) through devotion to an infallible leader who is described in sun-god imagery; and while Juche is officially atheistic, the DRPK government has put out propaganda arguing that Kim Jong Il has divine compassion exceeding that of Christ, Buddha, or Muhammad. It's also a heavily ritualistic political ideology, with North Koreans expected to make regular pilgrimages to statues of Kim Il Sung, and to swear loyalty to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as part of their marriage ceremonies. It's certainly a better candidate for the category than most forms of Buddhism.

Joel said...

Incidentally, some atheists do claim that communism is in fact a religion. Usually the sort of people who like to blame everything bad that has ever happened on religion.