North Korea – Unbroken Heritage
How do you bring a strong leader to power? Some say that it takes a people who are conditioned to receive it. Surely the Korean people were so conditioned. Centuries of harsh rulers have been allowed to dominate the minds of the citizens of Chosun. Take Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. He was the founder of the Ming dynasty that ruled Korea from 1364 to 1666. He required absolute obedience. He was the law and the source of all laws. When he died, generations after him were forced to sit in conferences discussing his philosophies.
Such conferences take place in modern North Korea, but their subject is not Emperor Zhu.
More than a thousand years earlier, much of the peninsula was ruled by the Silla kings. In those days, a man’s hereditary position determined his place in social position. The high aristocracy did not have to enlist in the army. Instead, they went to the main administrative offices of the country.
A practice carried to Korea today.
Later came the equally rank-conscious Koryo State, whose “caste” system rivaled that of modern India and persists in North Korea as well. A third of the nation was actually a slave class in ancient Koryo. This practice was only outlawed in 1894, but was quickly taken up by the occupying Japanese.
And of course, because of the current mentality of the labor camps. Most did not consider it unusual. That was how things had been “always”.
The caste continued into the final Choson dynasty. The different groups wore labels that marked them as high or low in the Korean position.
The current system has changed only in name and involves 50 or 60 ranks depending on the class. There are “families who fought against the Japanese”, “Korean War veterans”, “poor peasants”, etc., etc. One’s rank determines where one lives and how much one eats and whether one lives or dies.
There are many other intriguing similarities between today’s oppression and the oppression of its predecessors. North Korea is hungry for freedom and truth. Starving.
Can Koreans be free? Where will we look for hope, faith that things can ever be different? That is easy. South Korea, and the God that so many South Koreans invoke every day. South Korea is the constant argument against feudalism, brutal monarchies, communism, Juche and the Northern government. Koreans really can be free, given the right God and the right leadership.
For this we pray.