Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-2010

Abstract

This article focuses on the Marxist characteristics of North Korea in its interpretation of human rights. The author's main argument is that many Marxist features pre-existed in Korea. Complying with Marxist orthodoxy, North Korea is fundamentally hostile to the notion of human rights in capitalist society, which existed in the pre-modern Donghak (Eastern Learning) ideology. Rights are strictly contingent upon one's class status in North Korea. However, the peasants' rebellion in pre-modern Korea was based on class consciousness against the ruling class. The supremacy of collective interests sees individual claims for human rights as selfish egoism, which was prevalent in Confucian ethics. The prioritization of subsistence rights and material welfare over civil and political rights was also the foremost important duty of the benevolent Confucian king. Finally, unlike Marx's reluctant use of the language of ‘duties’, rights are the offspring of citizens' duties in North Korean human rights discourse.

Keywords

North Korea, Marxist philosophy, communist societies, Confucian ethics, citizens

Discipline

Asian Studies | International Relations | Political Science

Research Areas

Political Science

Publication

Cambridge Review of International Affairs

Volume

23

Issue

4

First Page

561

Last Page

587

ISSN

0955-7571

Identifier

10.1080/09557571.2010.523821

Publisher

Taylor and Francis

Copyright Owner and License

Author

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.1080/09557571.2010.523821

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