North Korea is a country that occupies the Northern half of the Korean peninsula which was established in 1948. It was founded after the post-colonial settlement that was provided by the USSR. Traditionally, North Korea is separated into two distinct sections Western and Eastern disjointed by the Nangnim Mountains. The western region is called Kwanso while the eastern region is known as the Kwanbuk. A majority of rural people lives in the rift valley plains and the coastal lowlands since there are multiple resources for farming. Their capital city is called Pyongyang which is the biggest city in North Korea while other main cities are Hamhung, Namp'o, Ch'ongjin, and Sucho'on. Notably, the North Koreans are ethnically homogenous and its prolonged isolation has also played a key role in upholding this homogeneity. This work will aim at providing different perspectives of North Korea's culture which in turn will extend our knowledge on the daily lives of its residents.
Since its formation, Korean culture took its shape from contributing political ideologies, the growth of the economy and the army fights that adversely affected Korea and the rest of the world. In 2009, it was recorded that approximately 22.7 million persons reside in North Korea. A majority of the occupants live in the urban centers which add up to 63% of the total occupants in the country. The largest population is Korean although there is a small number of residents which consists of Japanese and Chinese citizens. It is essential to record that, Korea has its own documented language and alphabet known as "hangul" (Smith 13). Nevertheless, the North Korean government is making efforts to get rid of the words in the dictionary that are derived from other languages. In the late nineteenth century, Northern Korea developed several consonants and vowels which saw the abolition of the Chinese characters which were being used in public printing and writing hence promoting national wide literacy.
Subsequently, the national symbols, for example, the national flag and emblem were all formed in 1948 or thereafter. The North Korean flag contains three colors: white, blue and red while their national anthem is known as the Aegukka which also means the song of patriotism. However, due to the praise of the longtime national leader, the songs that were seen as worshipping Kim II Sung have in some extents replaced the national anthem since they were being sung in public meetings. North Koreans are firmly trustworthy to Kim II Sung's family and as a consequence Koreans refer Kim II Sung's household as "One big revolutionary family". Before Kim Jong took office after the death of his father, Kim II Sung, a majority of citizens wore Kim II Sung badge on the upper left side of the chest as a symbol of loyalty (Bermudez 190). This tradition continued even after the demise of Kim II Sung hence making an essential national symbol which also depicted an individual's status.
The compound religious strains of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shamanism have strong roots in the Korean culture. In as much as the state has received constant streams of foreign cultural influence particularly from China, North Koreans have maintained their identity and improved their unique language and customs (Merkel 510). In late 19ths Century, westernization began although it was implemented in line with the Korean traditions which ultimately transformed the culture without so many conflicts until the 1940s when the Japanese tried to obliterate Korean Culture.
On the other hand, individual registration had a critical influence on the North Korean marriage system. Marriage between a man and a woman who are related is not allowed in the Korean tradition. Thus, all Koreans were supposed to keep family records from the era of the Yi dynasty so that everyone can trace their family roots (Smith 9). In cases where two individuals have the same ancestral name, they are regarded as siblings and they can be a victim of incest taboo in case they get married. However, North Korea abolished the idea of a family registry. This implies that marriages of people from the same ancestral clan are lawful so long as they are not direct relatives.
It is also important to record that the government is significantly involved with preserving and improving the traditional fine arts among other traditional features as a reflection of nationalism. For instance, the statutes of Kim II-Sung and public art is a reflection of the revolution (Fenkl 74). The selection and maintenance of the cultural monuments are derived from a communist ideology and authors in an effort to promote class consciousness and publicize the superiority and independence of Korean Culture. Moreover, museums have been well maintained by the government among several other archeological sites that play a key role in the development of a strong nationalistic feeling.
Conclusively, the cultural values of North Korea are always changing but their traditions are fundamental elements in the country. The Korean values of friendship, respect for family, authority, honor, and loyalty are all essential elements of its Confucian. Therefore Confucianism plays a critical function in North Korean society. Therefore, North Korean culture is strongly based on respect, language, national symbols among other traditional aspects discussed in this work.
Bermudez, Joseph S. "North Korea and the Political Uses of Strategic Culture." Strategic Culture and Weapons of Mass Destruction, 2009, pp. 189-200., doi: 10.1057/9780230618305_12.
Fenkl, Heinz Insu. "Inside North Korea." Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture, vol. 2, no. 1, 2008, pp. 73-76., doi:10.1353/aza.0.0043.
Merkel, Udo1. "Sport and Physical Culture in North Korea: Resisting, Recognizing and Relishing Globalization." Sociology of Sport Journal, vol. 29, no. 4, Dec. 2012, pp. 506-525.
Smith, Hazel. "Introduction: North Korea: Politics, Economy and Society." North Korea, pp. 1-16., doi:10.1017/cbo9781139021692.001.
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