Day of Songun

August 25th marks North Korea’s annual Day of Songun, glorifying the ruling Kim regime’s “military first” policy. Officially known as “Songun Day,” it emphasizes national defense and serves as patriotic propaganda for the totalitarian government. On this day commemorating departed leader Kim Jong-il’s visit to a Korean People’s Army unit in 1960, the citizenry is mobilized to demonstrate loyalty to the Kim dynasty and juche ideology through martial parades and displays.

Day of Songun

Origins of the Songun Policy

Songun, or “military first,” has defined North Korea’s governance and public life since Kim Jong-il formally introduced the philosophy in 1995. However, its roots trace back even earlier to Kim Il-sung’s tenure. After the Korean War’s devastation, Kim Il-sung focused resources on building a formidable army in case of future conflict with the US, South Korea, or competing communist powers.

By the 1990s, famine and the Soviet Union’s collapse had weakened North Korea. To consolidate power, Kim Jong-il announced the Songun policy of prioritizing the military over society, economics, and other national sectors. This allowed him to secure the backing of the influential Korean People’s Army leadership. Resources were funneled to sustaining a million-strong army, nuclear missiles, and cyberwarfare capabilities to project strength. The populace grew even more impoverished and hungry.

Propaganda campaigns deified Kim Jong-il as a uniquely brilliant military mastermind to popularize Songun ideology. State media proclaimed him as the “Guiding Star of Songun” and demanded absolute loyalty to his strategy. Through pervasive brainwashing, the people were conditioned to accept privation as necessary to protect North Korea from its enemies.

Militaristic Traditions on Day of Songun

Day of Songun celebrations feature parades, rallies, and spectacles to energize the populace for the grueling year ahead upholding the Songun policy:

  • Mass anti-American rallies with speeches, chants, and sign-waving conveying hatred of North Korea’s “imperialist enemy.” Attendance is compulsory.
  • Elaborate parades where the Korean People’s Army showcases its artillery, missiles, and the latest military technology developed at great national cost.
  • Military demonstrations and martial arts displays demonstrating the army’s supposed invincibility and readiness to defeat all foes.
  • oath-taking ceremonies where citizens, especially youth, vow with fanatical zeal to devote their lives to Songun and the new “Young Commander” Kim Jong-un.
  • Events promoting juch’e ideology, the philosophy pioneered by Kim Il-sung that forms the basis of Songun prioritizing extreme Korean self-reliance and military autonomy.
  • Copious flowers, flags, and reverent commemorations at Mansu Hill Grand Monument honoring Kim Jong-il as the Guiding Star of Songun forever.

Through these displays, the population is conditioned to accept never-ending sacrifice and vigilance to protect Kim Jong-un, guard against infiltrating foreign culture, and serve the generals upholding Songun.

The Costs to Society and Stability

While North Korea expends monumental resources to vaunt its military might during Day of Songun events, the society suffers gravely from neglect and diversion of resources:

  • Chronic malnutrition leaves many rural citizens physically and mentally stunted from lack of food. UN aid is limited and monitored closely.
  • Collapsing infrastructure like roads, electricity, hospitals, and water services cripples communities as repairs go unfunded in favor of missiles.
  • Police and internal security drain resources to block outside media and oppress the public through fear, preventing resistance.
  • Persecution of religious groups and public executions enforce obedience to the Supreme Leader and Songun.
  • Rampant bribery and corruption further weaken social stability as people turn to black markets and illicit networks to survive.

Until North Korea abandons its failing Songun policy, genuine security and prosperity will sadly remain elusive for its people. Coercion can never equal true devotion.