Timothy B. Miller
American Military University
Introduction to Sociology
Prof. Pamela Collins
North Korea: Bold or Bellicose?
In its most recent round of rhetoric, North Korea has gone on the offensive again after U.N. sanctions were levied against the rouge nation for conducting its third nuclear test in February 2013 and launching of a three-stage rocket in December 2012. In recent days North Korea has moved a missile to a key east coast facility, purported to be a missile with “considerable” range by the South Korean Defense Chief (Choe 2013). For long-time watchers of the situation on the Korean Peninsula there is nothing in these actions that is substantially new compared with past rhetoric. What is different is the man at the helm, Kim Jong-Un, the 30-year-old grandson of the country’s founder and Great Leader, Kim Il-Song. Therefore, what North Korea watchers and policy makers have to decide now is, “Is this just more of the same?” or “Is there a serious new threat being posed by North Korea and its new leadership?” From a sociological perspective North Korea has always posed many obstacles to understanding by western analysts. The North Korea government is essentially a “cult of personality” built around its leadership. In sociological terms a “cult of personality” is defined as “when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise” (Princeton University). This definition accurately describes North Korea’s leadership, government, and society at large. Sociologist Max Weber’s analysis on the subject of leadership would define North Korea as falling under what he termed “charismatic authority.” This “charismatic authority” originated from North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il-Song (Burghart 2010) and has been carried on in spirit by his son, Kim Jong-Il and more recently by his grandson, Kim Jong-Un....