Kim Jong Il’s birthday is one of the biggest national holidays in the DPRK and designated on February 16, 2012 , it is called the “Day of the Shining Star” . It was the literary output attributed to him that did more than anything else to popularise the concept of the Juche idea authored by his father. Under Kim Jong Il it was given a greater international dimension emphasising its originality in its philosophical gaze.
Kim Hun Hyok (ed) 2014 (Juche 103) Echoes Down the Centuries. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House pp 7-8
Chairman Mao Zedong and North Korean leader Kim Il-sung share a warm handshake at Mao’s home in Beijing’s Zhongnanhai garden on April 18, 1975.
In a book review of Echoes Down the Centuries, Dermot Hudson, leading member of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), repeats the inference that Mao told the Korean communist leader that he hoped that Kim Il Sung would lead the international communist movement and world revolution after he passed away.
Whether the story is genuine or not is immaterial as it illustrates a truth that is part of the mythology that Korean authorities want to portray: the idea of continuity and rupture in the development of the Juche idea was convey most starkly in the writings attributed to Kim Jong Il as he codified the ideas of his father.
In 1980s Britain, the chances are good that it was a newspaper advert that was the first introduction to Kim Il Sung. A paid article in smaller newsprint type would be the text of his speech on the importance of Korean independence. It was the ideological and theoretical exploits of Kim Jong Il, his son and successor, who took that central emphasis on independence and applied it to wider spheres such as philosophy to build a universalist ideological edifice around the Juche idea. It was Kim Jong Il and his successor, and son, Kim Jong Un, in their speeches advanced the idea of a “Golden Age of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist” in the systemization of Juche idea. The evolution of the idea has seen it emerged, in the wake of the collapse of Soviet-style “existing socialism” promoted as “an original idea and perfect revolutionary theory of communism the great leader created reflecting the requirements of the new era of history, the era of independence.”
Now people in many countries of the world are envious of our form of socialism, calling it a “model of socialism” and a “unique socialism”. Reality graphically proves that the Juche idea on which our socialism is based is the greatest ideology.
Despite the propaganda, Juche does not travel well outside the state sponsorship of North Korea. Adherents are few in number and the many friendship associations that populate cyberspace today are maintained by a handful recycling the circular arguments and mutual support that sustains the foundation of the international allegiance.
The crusade to promote the DPRK as a model goes against the self-professed tenants of the Juche idea that was rooted in the Korean experience. Despite the number of leftist organisations that signed the 1992 Pyongyang Declaration, officially titled Let Us Defend and Advance the Cause of Socialism, support for the country (not necessarily the regime) is on terms of its defence against continuing US hostility towards the regime. On the tenth anniversary of the Declaration on April 20, 2002, the Korean Central News Agency announced that it had been endorsed by 258 parties .Ideological identification with the ideas of the ruling WPK is rare on the political left – in Britain a single organization (with as many members) declares itself for Juche, while others fringe communists express solidarity with the DPRK. From that same mielu comes, understandably, accusations of revisionism – after all, dynastic succession is an ill-fit with an ideology that has a classless society as its end goal.
 Kim Il Jong On Some Problems of the Ideological Foundation of Socialism Juche 79 (1990)
There was a struggle to convince the ranks of the WPK of the interpretation that was being promoted. He alluded to opposition to his father’s ideas “anti-Party, counterrevolutionary factionalists, steeped in worship of big powers and dogmatism, would slander them, measuring them against the theories and propositions advanced by the authors of Marxism-Leninism.” 
On numerous occasions Kim Jong IL, in talks to senior officials of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea had to lay down instructions and argued that the Juche idea, “our Party’s outlook on the world”, is the guiding idea of our times which illuminates the absolutely correct way of achieving independence for the popular masses.
 Kim Jong Il, On Correctly Analysing and Reviewing the History of the Preceding Revolutionary Ideology of the Working Class. Juche 55 (1966)
 e.g. , On Having A Correct Viewpoint and Understanding of the Juche Philosophy Juche 79 (1990)
It was in 1966 that Kim Jong Il directed that analysing and reviewing the revolutionary ideology of the preceding working class was necessary for overcoming flunkeyism and dogmatism in Marxism-Leninism and establishing Juche in the field of ideology and theory.
It was a constant repeated theme, that underlined the Korean approach of analysing, and valuing, the feats and limitations of Marxism-Leninism from the standpoint of Juche, so as “to give our Party members and other working people a correct understanding of the originality and superiority of the socialist ideology and theory of our Party.”
Kim Jong Il, in talks to Social Scientists in the summer of 1966, had launched a “comprehensive analysis and review of Marxism-Leninism”. The context of “Leftist” and Rightist opportunism emergent in the international communist movement, and what was rightly being challenged the sycophantic and dogmatic approaches towards Marxism-Leninism as “its proponents are interpreting Marxism-Leninism in their favour”. Instead, there was an ideological offensive that the “great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary Ideology–his ideas, theories and policies –should be our sole yardstick for analyzing and assessing the preceding theories.”
It was argued that some cadres and intellectuals have not yet relinquished the habit of interpreting the leader’s revolutionary ideas within the framework of Marxism-Leninism, under the misapprehension that the latter contains solutions to all the problems arising in the revolution and construction. What was identified was a very practical mistaken stance that was described as “exerted a considerable negative influence” that tried to define Korean developing reality according to set formulae and propositions that did not conform to the actual conditions in the DPRK.
Kim Jong Il, On Correctly Analysing and Reviewing the History of the Preceding Revolutionary Ideology of the Working Class. Juche 55 (1966)
 Kim Jong Il, Socialism Is The Life of Our People Juche 81 (1992)
The aim was clearly stated:
“a comprehensive examination, analysis and review of the 100-year-long history of the working-class ideology, Marxism-Leninism. To analyse and review the preceding revolutionary ideology of the working class is a prerequisite for eliminating sycophantic and dogmatic approaches towards Marxism-Leninism and establishing the Juche orientation in the field of ideology and theory.”
Kim Jong Il advised, having identified “more than 30 of their works” [Marx, Engels and Lenin], “relinquish the old habit of worshiping the classics of Marxism-Leninism blindly. You should study each and every phrase of the works and, in the context of their settings and purposes, analyze their historical significance and limitations. You should also assess whether the individual propositions contained in the works suit our present situation or not.”
The prescribed framework for an assessment of the historical limitation set out a number of observation offered by Kim Jong Il that underplays any universalist element, and in highlighting these limitations, historical, ideological and theoretical, of Marxism-Leninism doctrine, Kim Jong Il was underlining the view that this historical legacy was less relevant than those ideas promoted as Korea’s own, the Juche of Kim Il Sung. Arguments for the alternative abandons basic Marxist methodology, historical materialism, political economy, and essentially argues “times have changed” before going on to prescribing idealist assertions devoid of explanation and reasoning.
- This doctrine [Marxism-Leninism] does not provide solutions to the theoretical and practical problems in the revolution and construction in former colonies and semi-colonies which make up the overwhelming majority of the nations on earth.
- They could not anticipate the theoretical and practical problems that would arise in setting up socialist system and then building socialism and communism after the seizure of power by the working class, nor could they give specific solutions to these problems.
- The works they wrote contain elements of the preceding bourgeois theories, those of Hegel’s philosophy in particular, and there are more elements of them in their earlier publications.
- It is impossible to find solutions to the theoretical and practical problems of the present times in Marxism, which emerged as a result of a theoretical analysis of pre-monopoly capitalism on the social foundations of a few developed capitalist nations in Western Europe. And among the revolutionary theories advanced by Marx and Engels, several lost their viability after the shift from capitalism to imperialism.
- You should not refer to Marxism for theories concerning the building of socialism and communism in our era. Because they had no experience in building socialism and communism, the authors of the doctrine could not give solutions to the pertinent problems, and their theories with regard to the building of socialism and communism are highly superficial and simplistic and lie within the confines of speculation.
- Leninism, as a variant of Marxism, defending the revolutionary essence of Marxism against a diverse range of opportunistic distortions and assaults and developing its fundamental principles in line with the specific conditions in the Russian revolution and the changed circumstances of the times.
- Lenin, could not anticipate the legion of problems that have been raised in the present times and, accordingly, no answers to these problem s are given in his theories and works.
- You need to know that the Leninist theory on the socialist revolution, to all intents and purposes, presented a strategy and tactics that reflected the reality of contemporary Russia.
- Lenin provided answers to some of the theoretical and practical problems raised in the early days of socialist construction, but died shortly after the revolution. So he could not provide specific solutions to the theoretical and practical problems arising in the building of socialism and communism as he lacked practical experience of it.
- Leninism is, above all else, formulated, based on the same world outlook as Marxism, and the two doctrines are similar in composition. This defines the scope of the originality of Leninism. All in all, Lenin was a staunch champion of and faithful successor to Marxism. But his achievements in the creative development of Marxism pale into insignificance compared to those in championing and inheriting it.
Kim Il Jong On Some Problems of the Ideological Foundation of Socialism Juche 79 (1990)
In a Speech Delivered to the Senior Officials of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on May 30, 1990, Kim Jong Il explained
As we have the Juche idea, we have solved with credit the problem of consolidating the ideological foundation of socialism. If we had not the Juche idea or had we blindly followed others, we would not have been able to build our unique form of socialism which is the most advantageous in the world.
The essential point driven home in the elevation of Juche idea within the WPK was that it was not be viewed as a simple inheritance and development of Marxism-Leninism; it must be viewed as a new and original idea. This ideological rupture and upgrading intensified with the collapse of Soviet-style “existing socialism” at the beginning of the 1990s.
“Socialism devoid of ideological foundation and perfect guiding ideology cannot be called genuine socialism and it might be frustrated, unable to check the anti-socialist schemes of the imperialists and reactionaries. This is shown graphically by the lesson of those countries where socialism was frustrated and capitalism has been restored. Our socialism is advancing victoriously unperturbed amidst the continuing vicious moves of the imperialists and reactionaries just because it is based on the Juche idea and guided by this idea.”
Any respect given to the historical achievements of the dialectical materialism of Marxism, as it smashed the reactionary idealistic and metaphysical outlook on the world, in this view is due to the role it played in facilitating the development of Kim Il Sung’s Juche idea as the ideological foundation of socialism.
“We must recognize the exploits Marx, Engels and Lenin performed for mankind and respect them. Thanks to the creation of Marxism-Leninism, the socialist theory developed from fantasy to science; the working class was able to have a guiding ideology for the first time in history and they could struggle vigorously against capital and for class emancipation, national liberation and socialism. Respecting the authors of the theories is an obligation on us in view of the principle of the juniors of the revolution respecting their seniors.” Kim Jong Il, Socialism Is The Life of Our People Juche 81 (1992)
The claim is that the Juche idea must not be viewed as a simple inheritance and development of Marxism-Leninism; it must be viewed as a new and original idea. That we should see originality in context with derivations in understanding means that the Juche idea is not an ideology, which contrasts with Marxism-Leninism:
In the seminar work, On Having A Correct Viewpoint and Understanding of the Juche Philosophy (1990), Kim Jong Il’s talk to the Senior Officials of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea chided the WPK for an error “we must correct the tendency to explain the superiority and originality of the Juche idea from the point of view of Marxist dialectical materialism”.
Explaining Marx’s philosophy as a critical inheritance, the contribution of Marxism-Leninism that had shaped the initial philosophical stance of the WPK was characterised as a stepping stone to later insights.
Marx directed his main efforts to critically examining the existing philosophical theories so as to free the working class, which was making a fresh appearance on the historical stage, from the outdated and reactionary outlook on the world. By discarding what was unscientific and reactionary in the preceding materialism and dialectics and by inheriting and developing a reasonable core, Marx created dialectical materialism.
A crude orthodoxy, long since challenged in theory and practice, is set up by the Korean authorities to contrast with the Juche idea. Thus the description that Marxism considered the development of society to be the history of replacement of the mode of production taking place by the law of adaptation of the relations of production to the character of the productive forces. According to this opinion, one can understand that revolution is carried out in the main when a socialist mode of production has been established and therefore it is concluded that there remains only work to consolidate and develop the socialist mode of production. Asif nothing has occurred to challenge this schematic view.
It is argued that the revolutionary idea created by the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung is an integrated system of idea, theory and method of Juche. It is said to be a completely original idea that can be called upon only in association with the august name of the leader. The Juche idea created by the great leader is an original philosophical ideology in that it presented, to start with, a new fundamental question of philosophy and systematized its structural system and content.
The improvement is said to lie in the emphasis that “the essential attributes of man, a social being, are not products of evolution; they have been formed and developed socially and historically.” Kim Jong Il was critical of those who still attempting to consider man’s essential characteristics with the evolutionary methodology arguing, simplistically and not without contention from others, that Man is the only social being in the world, therefore, we cannot compare him with animals. The idea is further refined: “Man is a social being. This implies that he is a being who lives in a social relationship. This term is used to distinguish man from natural being. As man is a social being, he has independence, creativity and consciousness, attributes which are peculiar to him and which other material beings cannot have.”
Again stressing the questionable “originality of the Juche philosophy” not as a derivative but a rupture as “present bourgeois thinkers, revisionists and reformists are infusing people with spontaneity and the matter-first doctrine, considering all things and phenomena from the biological and evolutionary point of view and the vulgar materialistic viewpoint. In explaining and propagating the Juche philosophy, we ought to direct the spearhead of criticism to such a biological and vulgar materialistic outlook on the world.”
When Kim Jong IL and others argues that “Socialist construction shows in practice that the advantages of socialism cannot be given full play and the masses’ and the cause for independence cannot be accomplished unless revolution is carried on in the field of ideology and culture after the establishment of the socialist system.” It could be demonstrated that this was hardly an original insight of a new philosophy, when a principle evident in Soviet life in the 1920s and 1930s.
The bland assertion, oft repeated in the literature of supporters, again without supporting evidence and argumentation, (and excuse the gender bias) is that “The basic advantage of our form of socialism is that it is a man-centred society, a society which considers everything with man at the centre and makes everything serve him. This advantage is defined by the Juche idea, a man-centred idea.” From this arises the claim that by elucidating the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything, the Juche idea gave the most correct answer to the question of man’s position and role in the world.
Far from giving a scientific solution to the question of continuous revolution in the socialist society, the Juche idea repeats the exhortations of selfishness and self-sacrifice that many voluntarists’ campaigns have employed. Establishing the threshold that “the masses are completely freed not only from socio-political subjugation but also from the fetters of nature and outdated ideology and culture” resembles a utopian science fiction scenario rather than reflective of society’s future development.
Facing the vestiges of the old society with its class structure, gender inequalities, racist oppression and sexual divisions, the prescription for freeing people from the fetters of nature and outmoded ideas and culture, as practiced in the DPRK, is far from transparent and dependent upon circular argumentation that has evolved to justify a move away from a materialist and dialectical understanding to a more idealist, nationalist and mystic exhortation to focus on the leader.
This emphasis on the value of an individual’s contribution, that is Kim Il Sung’s, should not be confused with other currents such as ‘Guiding Thought.’ Although equally focused on an individual leader, this marginal trend tries to maintain a fidelity to marxist science rather that replace it. In this school of thought, those individuals are not “genius” with great “ideas”, but people judged to have understanding reality in the dialectical materialist way, a synthesis and not an assembly of teachings, and accepting it as it is. This, essential Gonzalist tendency promotes the concept of Guiding Thought of revolution as at the heart of Maoism, “it explains that a Leadership is generated in the revolutionary process, that a person synthesizes in a Dialectical Materialist way the understanding of the situation, showing the path to follow” .
The argument is that in each country, class struggle generates individuals who proceed to the analysis of their own social and national reality, understanding the contradictions they live in, paving the way for progress through revolution, i.e. New Democratic Revolution or Socialist Revolution. The “thought” is genuine and correct only if it means a real confrontation on all aspects of old society, the practical aspect being on the forefront. Hence their emphasis on Marxism-Leninism Maoism Gonzalo thought, principally Gonzalo thought.
 Lenin’s Thought. Communism No.2 November 2016
 See: COMMUNISM No.5 –published September 2017 on the theme “In defense of Gonzalo, theoretician of Maoism” http://lesmaterialistes.com/fichiers/pdf/revues/communism-005-gonzalo.pdf
Questions and Answers On the Songun Idea . FLPH Pyongyang Juche 101 (2012) p16
The Korean emphasis on the Juche idea and the family that is identified with its creation and application has served to maintain an independent stance for the DPRK in the face of a hostile world. It has made a virtue out of an autarkical necessity but even then clothes any [unacknowledged] assistance or dependent economic relationships. Even with the body of literature it has produced to underpin its claims, its ulitarian political convenience is illustrated by the adoption of Songun politics under Kim Jong Il. In light of difficult international and domestic situation in the 1990s, he was first to establish the military-first policy [although back-dated to the armed revolutionary struggle under Kim Il Sung] and it moved the WPK further away from it Marxist foundations. The narrow application of such an idea, similar to Soviet development thinking in the 1960s that identified the army of third world states as the most stable national institution for progressive advance, could only be applied by parties holding state power. In all, this school of thought, promoted as some kind of upgrade to revolutionary science, provides a retrogressive step reinforcing the sycophantic and dogmatic approaches that it was said to challenge.