Race in DPRK's constitution

Compatriots of the world, unite!

By William Wetherall

First posted 20 June 2007
Last updated 1 January 2008

DPRK constitutions from 1972 to 1998
1998 DPRK Constitution
Korean ethnonationalism

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DROK constitutions from 1972 to 1998

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was founded on 9 September 1948 a few weeks after the founding of the Republic of Korea. DPRK, like ROK, traces the origin of Korean independece from Japan to 1 March 1919, the start of a failed liberation movement. Also like ROK, it celebrates 15 August 1945 as the day of its liberation from Japan.

The Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, adopted on 27 December 1972, was amended on 9 April 1992 and again on 5 September 1998 by the Supreme People's Assembly.

The Preamble is devoted mostly to praise for Kim Il Song, who in passing is credited with "leading the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle" under the banner of his "immortal Juche idea" -- according to the official English translation, which is close enough. Typically, the nuances of some more important phrases are lost in translation.

Reunification supreme task

The most important word in the Preamble is "reunification". The Preamble observes that Kim Il Song regarded "reunification of the country as the supreme national task" and called for a "nationwide movement" to achieve "reunification through the united efforts of the whole nation" -- in the official translation.

Actually, Kim Song regarded "reunification of the country as the supreme task of the [Korean ethnic] race" and called for a "movement of the entire [Korean ethnic] race" to achieve "reunification with the solidified power of the entire [Korean ethnic] race"

"nationals" associated with an "ethnic race"

In several articles of DPRK's constitution, as in the Preamble, the "people" and "citizens" of the country are so closely associated with the "[ethnic] race" that populates the "fatherland" -- one has to conclude its writers intended to view Korea as a racioethnic rather than civil entity.

Whereas the Preamble of ROK's constitution refers to "compatriot love" as an instrument of "strenthening the solidarity of the [Korean ethnic] race", Article 15 of DPRK's Constitution specifically provides for the "democratic racioethnic rights of Korean compatriots who reside overseas" -- which the official English translation reduces to "democratic national rights of Koreans overseas".