There are two important youth organisations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea both of which are linked closely with the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea.
The Korean Children’s Union (조선소년단) is the junior organisation serving children and young teenagers whilst the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League (김일성-김정일주의청년동맹) serves young people between 15 and 30 years old. When women marry, they transfer from the Youth League into the Socialist Women’s Union.
Members of the Korean Children’s Union gathered in Pyongyang
The Korean Children’s Union (KCU) is a political youth organisation linked to the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea. The organisation was founded on the 6th of June 1946 and serves an important role in preparing children for their eventual admission into the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League. Members of the Union are issued lapel pins and distinctive red neckties, similar in style to soviet-era Young Pioneer ties.
Children are often admitted to the organisation on important public holidays such as the National Foundation Day or Day of the Sun. The KCU also has a uniformed branch, the Young Pioneer Corps. The KCU provides children with an education in the Juche Ideology from a young age to ensure their fluency in national politics from an early age. The group may also organise trips to places such as the Songdowon International Children’s Camp near Wonsan, a rare chance for children in the DPRK to engage with any foreign children who may be visiting at the time
Members of the KCU proudly displaying their motto: 항상 준비! (Always ready!)
The Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League is the primary youth organisation in the DPRK and is under the direct control of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of Korea. The league was founded on the 17th of January 1946 as the Democratic Youth League of North Korea. Since then it has been renamed 4 times:
1946-1949: Democratic Youth League of North Korea
1949-1964: Democratic Youth League of Korea
1964-1996: League of Socialist Working Youth of Korea
1996-2016: Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League
Since 2016: Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League
The league is responsible for the nationwide planning and execution of youth policy and serves alongside the ministry of education and Korean Children’s Union in order to fully coordinate the ideological and political education of its members.
As is noticeable by the name change in 2016, during the 9th Youth League Congress, the organisation has begun to encompass the ideological teachings of Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader, into its manifesto. This change represents a wider societal shift in the DPRK since the death of Kim Jong Il in 2011. His teachings and aphorisms have become almost equal to those of his late father, the President Kim Il Sung.
Marshall Kim Jong Un accepting the flag of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League
The work done by these two youth organisations is representative of the ideological goals set out by the government and Worker’s Party. It is easy to understand that securing the loyalty of the youth helps to stabilise North Korean society and guarantees that the political status quo will be carried forward by the younger generations as they strive to build upon the basic ideals that they have been taught all through their lives. The introduction of education in the Juche idea at such a young age is critical in maintaining the ‘Single-hearted unity’ which is so prized by people of the DPRK.