There are numerous definitions of ‘Stalinism’ but most of them agree on one important point: they refer to ‘mass mobilization’ as an important feature of Stalinist politics. In other words, Stalinist governments are not satisfied when their subjects are merely obedient. The ‘masses’ must actively support the current policy, and share the official worldview. This requires a systematic control of their daily life. This system has some parallels in the practices of more extreme religious institutions, with their emphasis on regular attendance of common prayers, public delivery of repentance, and the like.

In most communist countries, it was the communist party itself, which enforced this policy. Party members were expected to spend long hours sitting through meetings and occasionally deliver speeches in which they professed their love for their country, leader, and/or official ideology. In the course of time the initial zeal disappeared and meetings became a formulaic and time-consuming chore. The system was also adept at punishing minor transgressions, which could not be dealt with by the judiciary. Even in the post-Stalinist USSR of the relatively liberal 1960s an outraged wife still had the option of reporting her cheating husband to his party secretary. She could safely assume that his affair would be publicly discussed and formally condemned ― with some damage done to his career.

But what about other people? After all, party members always constituted a minority, some 5-10% of population. In the USSR they did not manage to find a proper solution to the problem. Only youngsters who were members of the Party Youth (membership being almost obligatory) were subjected to a somewhat similar system of regular control. Other segments of population remained unsupervised.

This problem was brilliantly solved under the wise guidance of Kim Il Sung, the Great Leader. The idea was to make every North Korean a member of some organization, which would take care of his spiritual health and moral guidance. Thus, party members are supervised by their party organization. Teenagers are the responsibility of the Party Youth, known in North Korea as the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League. Younger children are taken care of by the Children’s Union. Employees of state factories are Trade Union members (and North Korean trade unions fight not for higher wages, but for the greater ideological level of their members). Farmers are members of the Farmers’ Union. All these bodies stage regular meetings, normally on a weekly basis, where their members are made to listen to lengthy propaganda articles, or deliver ‘mutual criticisms’.

Well, but what about women? I mean the women who do not have permanent work – and for a communist country North Korea has always had an unusually high percentage of housewives. Can those women be left without proper ideological guidance and political instruction? Not in Kim Il Sung‘s North Korea. From the early 1960s, all unemployed women were members of the Women’s Union where they were free to study the exploits of the anti-Japanese guerrillas, learn from the latter’s love for the Great Leader and, of course, criticize one another.

The Women’s Union of [censored] Korea in its current shape is a unique organization, which has few if any analogues worldwide. It’s essentially a mass organization, designed along the lines of the ruling KWP, but with obligatory membership of all women who are not members of ‘higher-level’ mass organizations (the Party itself, its youth branch, a trade union or a farmer’s union).

The union was founded in 1945 and was initially headed by Pak Chong-ae, one of the most remarkable personalities of that remarkable era. Once a Soviet intelligence agent (her real name being Ch’oe Vera), she joined forces with Kim Il Sung at a very early stage and became Kim Il Sung‘s staunch and devoted supporter. Under her guidance[,] the Women’s Union was quite a normal one, quite similar to bodies, which existed in other countries. They did no expect every single woman to come to their meetings, let alone be active participants in the mutual criticism sessions.

Changes to the Union began in the mid-1960s when the DPRK steered clear of the de-Stalinizing USSR. Soon afterwards, in 1972, Kim Il Sung‘s second wife Kim Song-ae was made responsible for the entire organization, becoming chairwoman of the Union. It was largely under her guidance that the Women’s Union acquired its unique shape.

But with the rise of Kim Jong Il, who [censored], new changes took place. From the early 1980s, Kim Song-ae, never a public politician in her own right, began to miss the official events of the union, with important speeches delivered by her deputies. Propaganda also began to put emphasis on the activities of Kim Chong-suk, Kim Il Sung‘s other wife and Kim Jong Il‘s mother. Allegedly, it was Kim Chong-suk who created the Union in the 1940s and led its activities. Needless to say, the name of the Women’s Union real founder, Pak Chong-ae was not mentioned: by that time she had been purged. She was not killed but allowed to hold secondary positions in the country’s bureaucracy.

In 1998[,] Kim Song-ae retired from her job in the Women’s Union. But by that time the union itself had changed. Stalinism was falling apart, and it was increasingly difficult, even impossible to keep all the housewives coming to the sessions. They were too busy selling things in the markets, or producing something in their home workshops. But that is another story…


4 thoughts on “Union of Women (by Andrei Lankov)

  1. What I never understood about Europeans is why they don’t seem to have female modelling agencies the like all capitalist East Asians have, from Vietnam to Japan. With fair skin, of course.


  2. Tanned holes are disgusting to be sure. What I absolutely hate is painted (and long) nails, and in so many horrendous combinations! Foids are truly retarded creatures when left to their devices. They don’t even know how to make themselves attractive. Hint: you are attractive from Nature or you are not, don’t paint another face you fucking stupid bitch!

    Liked by 1 person

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