In utopian or dystopian kinds of governance, there is a strange mixture of repression and freedom. Utopian politics uses a democratic government with people being represented by two levels of public officials. The higher level of governance is elected by members of the lower one. Nevertheless, politics is not discussed outside the political arena, which makes the utopian system seemingly repressive. It has however been argued that this kind of repression is fair since all members of the public are bound equally by the system. Arguably, this is the kind of the governance system currently employed in North Korea, where every citizen is equally bound by the law, and there is no class differentiation. The following discussion seeks to investigate the statement that the North Korean governance system is a utopia and prove the opposite.
Over the years, there have been a number of attempts to create a utopian governance system around the world with North Korea been among such countries. Currently, it is ruled by the communist regime with the initial intentions to establish a utopian society, described by earlier philosophers, including but not limited to Karl Marx. In this context, the regime initially wanted to create a society where everything would be owed and shared publicly so that everyone had enough and fairness prevailed (Moon 105). However, this plan did not work for North Korea as expected and instead ended up with a system of governance, which is in part a utopia and a dystopia. It can be argued that the primary cause of this was an incompatibility between human desires and the concept of utopia.
Under the classical definition of utopia, freedom is guaranteed for all members of the public, and people are treated equally. On the other hand, the dystopian system is characterized by some cases of oppression and misery created in totalitarian society. Evidence of the past political, economic and social events in the country indicates that people in North Korea are constantly coerced to honor their divine ruler(s) through various actions. For example, there are reports that members of the public have been forced to wear the same haircut as their ruler and in some cases overworked in the name of helping to develop their country (Armstrong 357). While some of these reports cannot be fully substantiated, they point a finger at the utopian system that fosters both freedom and oppression.
In what has been termed as a ruling through terror, the current regime has executed over seventy public officials since it assumed power under President Kim Jong-Un (Lanʹkov 16). Further, the regime has expanded the prison system primarily to handle a large number of prisoners who are incarcerated for political reasons or because of the ongoing political purges. This popular opinion has however been argued to be propaganda orchestrated by the media against a classic regime that survives in a completely changed environment, which does not recognize or intentionally chooses to discredit it. Still, reports indicate about the draconian control over communication, speech and the freedom of assembly in order to prevent alternative political leadership from emerging.
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In line with the above statement, it must be noted that North Korea has managed to survive over the years and manipulate other countries, including the superpowers. It indicates that as seen through its leaders the country is not irrational contrary to what has been depicted by the media over the last few years. While North Korea has been seen as potentially aggressive to an extent of firing a preemptive nuclear weapon against U.S. targets, the country has not shown any practical intention of starting a war (Lanʹkov 16). From a critical point of view, the major root cause of the current problems that the country is facing is the original overreliance on foreign aid.
With the disintegration of the Soviet, the country was faced with persistent hardships, and the economy barely survived. However, the ruling elite were not ready to admit that their policies had failed and therefore tried as much as they could to keep the situation under control through democracy and sometimes political and military intimidation. Although it has enabled the country to survive over the years, it has caused misery to people, not to mention jeopardizing genuine political growth (Wagner and Schlangen). Unlike a typical utopian system where all people enjoy equality and goods are owned publicly, the described system of governance in North Korea allows a small group of the hereditary elite to continue enjoying moderate luxury and political power (Tonythebae).
While the current regime might have failed according to outsider’s perception, the major victims are citizens of the country. North Koreans are not only victims of the regime, but also of the history of their country. The current authority fears that instituting reforms can upset people’s lives and the ones of their family members. Though these concerns may be well founded, they come with no form of relief to millions of North Koreans whose lives continue to become miserable under the current policies and economic sanctions (Moon 105). The lack of consolidated, more focused and open economic policies has locked the country out of different types of aid from the international community.
Despite predictions that North Korea makes about prosperity, many nations including the U.S. president have questioned the ability of the current regime to consolidate power. As the country has experienced the loss of aid and failed missile tests, there have been speculations about the future of the regime (Lanʹkov 17). Looking back at the previous regimes, they at least tried to better human welfare by encouraging certain types of market activities. This trend has continued under the rule of new regimes. For example, materials exchanges were not previously illegal, especially between state enterprises, with no special economic zones (Armstrong 357). Though efforts taken to introduce these markets are yet to bear fruit, it is expected that they will help in bolstering the future economic growth. What is now required is a shift of focus from military spending to other more growth-oriented projects.