May 2008




Master of Arts (MA)


Cliff Kelly

Primary Subject Area

History, Asia, Australia and Oceania; Political Science, General; Speech Communication


Juche, Fantasy Theme Analysis, North Korea, Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung, Speech Communication


Scholarship on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is severely limited due to the secretive nature of Kim Jong Il and his regime; much of this secrecy and, generally, the closed nature of North Korean society is due in part to an ideology based on self-reliance, Juche. Through a communication scholarship based rhetorical examination this thesis aims to understand and explain how Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il have been able to create and sustain the Juche ideology in spite of North Korea’s poor economic and social condition. The research traces the evolution of North Korea’s Juche ideology from 1955 to 1990, using Ernest Bormann’s Fantasy Theme Analysis, by examining two key speeches. The first speech was given by Kim Il Sung and has been pinpointed by scholars as the symbolic inception of Juche. The second speech is thematically similar and was given by Kim Jong Il in 1990. The two orations are compared and the ideological differences between the two are parsed out and summarized. This thesis found that the Juche idea began as a legitimate lifestyle rhetorical vision cast to the people by Kim Il Sung which met the needs of the people. The purpose of the original Juche idea proved effective at overcoming the conditions present in 1955 and was adopted by the nation as a whole. However, under Kim Jong Il the nature of Juche changed from serving to the people to serving the Korean Worker’s Party. The implications extend to the North Korean situation today and this thesis suggests a new paradigm for understanding North Korea’s possession of nuclear and biological weapons, hostility towards South Korea, and general attitude towards outsiders.