Rewind: A Machiavellian Regime in North Korea?
“In other words, one is responsible for one’s own destiny and one has also the capacity for hewing out one’s own destiny.” –Kim Jong Il
Kim Jong Il, the de facto Dictator of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 1994, has retained his father’s power through Machiavellian policies. Ruling a hereditary state, Kim Jong Il had to summon Machiavellian concepts to maintain power and respect. By using fear and strict laws, he preserved his power despite overseeing a country with rapid poverty. Be it breaking nuclear agreements with the United States, or bombing South Korean islands, Kim Jong Il has followed several of the policies extolled in Machiavelli’s “The Prince”.
On July 8, 1994 Kim Jong Il’s father, the ruler of North Korea, died from a heart attack. Despite being a hereditary state, North Korea did not have a ruler for the following three years. It took 3 years for Kim Jong-Il to consolidate his power in the Asian nation. To do so, Kim Jong Il followed his father’s policy of ruthlessness, a tactic that Machiavelli heavily documented. While working to preserve his power and authority in North Korea, Kim Jong Il instituted many interesting policies.
- In 2004, he had roughly 80 high-ranking officials, including several relatives and his own brother-in-law, rounded up and purged (His government is extremely secretive and brutal to dissidents)
- He enforces an isolationist policy efficiently. Internet access is forbidden and irrelevant, since computers and telephones, or even such modern amenities as refrigerators, stoves, and telephones are not available to ordinary citizens.
- Access to paper — not newspapers, but ordinary writing paper — is strictly restricted.
- Television is available only to well-connected insiders or in public community centers, and there is no need to change the channel, as North Korea’s one broadcast network is all that is allowed, and of course, all propaganda.
- In news accounts, the only mention of dissent is when disloyal citizens are arrested and never heard from again.
Machiavelli wrote his dissertation The Prince in 1517. Despite the large gap in time, the virtues and guidelines extolled in the dissertation are still used and studied. Kim Jong Il followed these Machiavellian policies while overseeing the throne of North Korea. One article states, “As Kim has built one of the world’s largest standing armies, aid agencies estimate some 2 million people have died since the mid-1990s as a result of food shortages due in large part to economic mismanagement.” Following Machiavellian principles has seemingly worked out well for him. By suppressing his dissenters, general thoughts about him are positive. People in his country are living in poverty but continue to admire the “great leader” as they refer to him. Another article suggests, “Kim’s totalitarian regime has been accused of torture, public executions, slave labor, forced abortions and infanticides, and an estimated 200,000 people are held as political prisoners.” What do you think? Is Kim Jong Il Machiavellian?
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