David Mitchell: "An Orison of Sonmi-451"
Not many Korea specialists are reading David Mitchell, I reckon, since so few online sites note that the "Juche" referred to in the dystopian story "An Orison of Sonmi-451" in his novel Cloud Atlas is North Korea's official ideology (and one site that notes this is clearly nonexpert).
Here's a passing mention of "Juche" in Mitchell's "Orison" story, the speaker being "Sonmi-451" (clone number 451, I presume, and an apparent allusion to Fahrenheit 451):
Humor is the ovum of dissent, and the Juche should fear it. (Mitchell, Cloud Atlas: A Novel, Random House, 2004, page 188)The story, which I've only begun reading, seems to depict a future Korea in which the North and the South have unified into state capitalist version of a corporatist Juche society. Hence the name of the country, "Nea So Copros," meaning something like "New South Korea," I suppose. A certain Martina Hrubes, of the University of Frankfurt, has a master's thesis, "Postmodernist Intertextuality in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas," that seems to confirm this:
[T]he corporate dictatorship of Nea So Copros is suggested to have developed out of North Korea, the most overtly socialist country today, as the recurring reference to the "Juche" (Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, 203; 341; 347; 360; 364), Kim Jung Il's state doctrine, indicates. The ideological system of capitalism thus seems to have prevailed over the promise of communism, while democracy has failed as a system and is referred to as "abortive" (Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, 243). (Hrubes, "Postmodernist Intertextuality in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas") [Note that Hrubes uses the Hodder and Stoughton edition, apparently differently paginated than the Random House edition.]Hrubes is also one of the few to note the point about "Juche" as the North's official doctrine. Mitchell's interest in Korea likely stems from his time in Japan, where his years there teaching English, 1994-2002, would have allowed him to familiarize himself with Japan's peninsular neighbor.
I'll have to look into this much more deeply after I've finished the entire novel, but I thought that I ought to mention Mitchell's story here for others with an interest in South Korea to pick up on.