National Loss and the Politics of Mourning in North Korea
The main objective of the paper is to approach the politics of mourning in North Korea
following the experiencing of the loss of the country’s two leaders Kim Il Sung and
Kim Jong Il. Building on theoretical considerations regarding the concepts of “pastoral
power” as well as the “theater state,” the study analyzes some of the performances,
symbols, and rituals connected to the loss of the founder of the state and nation Kim
Il Sung and of his successor Kim Jong Il. By so doing, the paper provides a fresh
perspective for thinking about national loss — and the ways of remembering linked
to it — both as inherently political and at the same time as constitutive of social
relations. In order to approach the politics of mourning in North Korea, a deeper
understanding of the relationship between the individual and the leader(s), as well as
of the subsequent process of subjectivation, is required. As such, the study draws on
the concept of “the sociopolitical organism” and the notion of “political life and the
nontemporality of loss,” as these understandings help explain a set of particular
aspects linked to the politics of mourning in the country.
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