Juche (/dʒˈtʃ/; English pronunciation ; Korean: 주체; lit. subject; Korean pronunciation: [tɕutɕʰe]; usually left untranslated[1] or translated as "self-reliance") is the official ideology of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, described by the government as "Kim Il-sung's original, brilliant and revolutionary contribution to national and international thought".[2] It postulates that "man is the master of his destiny",[3] that the masses are to act as the "masters of the revolution and construction", and that by becoming self-reliant and strong, a nation can achieve true socialism.[3]

Torch symbolizing the Juche ideology at the top of the Juche Tower in Pyongyang
Korean name
Revised RomanizationJuche sasang
McCune–ReischauerChuch'e sasang
Literally "subject(ive) thought"[1]

Kim Il-sung (1912–1994) developed the ideology, which was originally viewed as a variant of Marxism–Leninism until it became a distinct ideology[2] while it incorporated the historical materialist ideas of Marxism–Leninism and strongly emphasized the individual, the nation state and its sovereignty.[2] Consequently, the North Korean government adopted Juche into a set of principles and it has used these principles to justify its policy decisions from the 1950s onwards. Such principles include moving the nation towards claimed jaju (자주; 自主; "independence")[2] through the construction of a jarip (자립; 自立; "national economy") and an emphasis upon jawi (자위; 自衛; "self-defence") in order to establish socialism.[2]

The ideology developed after losing its original Marxist–Leninist elements.[4][5] According to North Korea: A Country Study by Robert L. Worden, Marxism–Leninism was abandoned immediately after the start of de-Stalinization in the Soviet Union and it has been totally replaced by Juche since at least 1974.[6]