North Korean Workplace Organization

Unlike the USSR or many other Marxist-Leninist states, the DPRK actually did away with the "one man management" of workplaces. It is often argued, that without grassroots control by workers or the party, it was easier for revisionists like Krushchev to destroy worker autonomy by increasing the liberties of the managers: In the end, this led to the restoration of the profit motive and the neutering of workers power. The DPRK chose a different path: 1961 the "one man management" was abolished, and the Taean Work System introduced, which is still operating today. This makes the DPRK the only existing country in the world with a genuine, fully established workplace democracy.

So, how does it work? First off, there is the democratic part. A workplace committee, elected by the workers in the enterprise, consists of 25 - 35 members, which are made up by common workers, engineers, scientists, managers and representatives of worker organizations (trade unions or women's organizations, for example). This standing committee then elects an executive committee, since arround 30 people are too many to efficiently run the place day-to-day, which consists of five people. Both the committee and the executive committee are supposed to strengthen the cooperation between workers, which also means: Coordination of the respective enterprise with the economic plan, unions, party functionaries and local councils to make economic planning sustainably democratic. Pay is set by the unions of the entire industry. In general, the administration of the enterprise has two columns, a practical one and an ideological one. While engineers, worker representatives or deputies of the respective departments oversee production, supply and worker services, party representatives and union members provide the ideological basis (political education, motivation, study groups for workers, special rewards for qualitative work and so on). The percentage of common workers in the committee is set to be 60% at least. That means, the common worker has the absolute majority should there be a disagreement.

These committees are not just elected. They are charged with reciprocal elaboration of problems open discussion with the entirety of the stuff when sich problems arise.

Secondly, there is the completely different arrangement of character of a North Korean workplace compared to capitalism or even most self-proclaimed socialist states, which is designed to overcome alienation as formulated by Marx. Workplaces are designed to be self-sustainable, which means they are supposed to overcome the separation of individual producers which allocate their surplus. North Korean workplaces have farmland (pic related) where they have their own factory-grown food, they are made ecologically as sustainable as possible (mostly hydraulic and solar energy), they have areas of recreation, like pools or gyms, in-built educational halls with computers with access to the national intranet; through unions and the such the workplaces even organize people's retirement funds or welfare. In even bigger installments, the workers actually live at their workplace: They only have to walk a few steps to their workspace, and also have access to in-built daycare centers - this results in the overcoming of the antagonisms of labor and motherhood, and ensures the complete liberation of woman.
(Chollima Industrial Steel Complex)
Socialist Korea: A Case Study of Economic Development
Chairman Kim Jong-Un gives field guidance in a large cosmetics factory

Final note: Due to sanctions fabricated by imperialist powers, I don't try to say that the DPRK is an utopia or a paradise. The life of the average North Korean can in no way be compared to the life of a Swiss person, in terms of access to consumer products, for example.

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Interesting. Have a bump.

Additionally (and to for a shameless self-bump), I'd like to add this example of a newly opened collective farm in the DPRK:
On the pictures you can see housing, a school, a shop and an education center all integrated within the enterprise.

Whew, lad.

From this it sounds like the DPRK has tried to implement workplace democracy to a greater extent than most other ML states. I'm a bit skeptical though. For example, there seems to be very blatant nepotism in their political system. The way the leadership role has been passed from Kim Il-sung to his son and then his grandson seems like a obvious sign that their political system is undemocratic or at least very dysfunctional.

If their political system is blatantly undemocratic, then it doesn't seem unlikely to me that the workplace democracy too is something that only exists on paper. I kinda wanna be able to defend the DPRK (I absolutely loathe the anti-ML circlejerk this board has turned into) but to me the DPRK doesn't seem like that great or well functioning of a country (even if you account for all the threats from the outside, sanctions, and all that) in any way except for the fact that they regularly tell the US to eat shit and die.

I know my criticism of the DPRK is pretty vague and surface level, so please tell me why you think I'm wrong. I realize it's probably hard to disprove my mostly unsubstantiated claim that the workplace democracy in the DPRK only exists on paper, but I would be interested in hearing why you don't believe the DPRK is a generally miserable place with a corrupt and undemocratic political system.

What about it?

Bump for truth

The question is how much power Kim Jong-Un actually has. From what I've heard is that Kim Jong-Il actually opposed succession:
I think a majority of the population and the WPK actually do want Kim Jong-Un to be leader. It's not like Kim Il-Sung passed on his crown jewels to is son.
In the end, I do find the leader worship whacky. No communist can unironcially think this is a good idea. But isolation and Korean culture has led to that, and I feel uncomfortable judging North Koreans for doing this, despite being critical of it.
First off I think there is a difference between central authority and local democracy. You could have a perfectly fine local democracy but a authoritarian central administration. Cuba is similar in that regard. I don't believe the elections on the local level in the DPRK are a fraud. Secondly, I do believe that somebody opposed to the Kims or the official WPK party line would not be able to run properly as a candidate, the question is, because the masses don't like it or because the top-down authorities don't crack down upon it? What I really don't like is the dichotomy Kim Il-Sung created in his later years between the WPK and the government. Here is hope that due to the replacement of the National Defense Commission with the State Affairs Committee the leadership is more merged into party structures. I'm glad songun comes to an end, but I see why it was necessary for self-preservation.
"Great" is a bit of a subjective term, but they are clearly functionig:
You have no idea how much higher their living standard is since the 90s where they suffered the Arduous March due to the stop of imports of fertilizers and pesticides.

Let's talk a bit about how the DPRK relates to other countries. When you look about their GDP, they are clearly a poor country - but when you look at their achievements they do far, far better than any country with the same GDP. Many Third World countries would whish they were the DPRK, also, countries with a similar GDP are often even more corrupt or less democratic. As odd as this might sound, but the DPRK is actually proof that socialism is superior to capitalism, let alone the fact that a capitalist economy under the sanctions would have collapsed by now. So it is certainly not a miserable place, in relation to their conditions. Sometimes, due to their socialist system, they can pull stuff off even the USA struggles to do:
Pic related is an orphanage. I don't think you can find an orphanage of this quality anywhere in a capitalist country.

it's a closed society. You are hearing from the state the idealized version of how things work. Maybe take it all with a grain of salt.

I kinda do. In my last post I only used western sources. Some things have been documented by foreign observers. When you are claiming it's all the Truman Show you are making the positive claim, which means you have to provide evidence.

I think the truth is that these things really do work within the big, main enterprises and showcase communities but may be dysfunctional in poorer areas. For example, there are still some areas which haven't been electrified, they are using solar panels and such, this has evolved a surprising conviction within the DPRK to be innovative and environmentally sustainable:
I think no matter what you think about the DPRK the consensus should be that the sanctions should be lifted so that they can access their full potential.

So they can produce for exchange?

Cities really look so much better without all the advertizing everywhere.

I don't need to like North Korea to see what a stupid comment which doesn't contribute anything to the discussion this is.

The question is whether these examples actually are representative of most North Korean workplaces, or whether they're just "themeparks". It's not really possible to tell since it's a closed country, but I'm kinda skeptical.
That said, it kinda reminds me of Robert Owen's utopian experiments ("Socialism: Utopian and Scientific" mentions it). He also experimented with the idea of "factory villages", with integrated homes, daycare, education, and all that. It's a great idea, but it is, well, utopian. It doesn't have any potential for establishing communism unless the workers actually control the state.

North Korea sits on the biggest rare earth deposit in the world, which is the backbone of industrial civilization. Why do you think the west has such an amazing hateboner for the DPRK?
Socialism isn't underdevelopment. If they could tap into this deposit, they could accelerate their development a thousandfold. Mainly, the DPRK will always produce for use. But sometimes you need to produce a but for exchange, especially when you aren't blessed with much arable land.

The GDR had plenty of workplace community as well. I don't see why it would be utopian. It's not like these workplaces are totally isolated, it's just they are made more sustainable and communal to have less alienation.
Yeah, but there is never any evidence that they are. People say Pyongyang is the showcase, the rest is crap. Then they see the other cities like Wonsan and say that's just the cities. Then they see the countryside and say that's not the real countryside, and so on. I already said that it would be wrong to say there aren't any undeveloped areas in North Korea, but their main facilities seem to work according to this system.

Just another remark, according to Juche communism can only be established through world revolution (that's why it is not in their constitution) when all countries are self-reliant, when mankind is controlling its own fate and all countries operate in a cooperative way.


It's totally a coincidence that they purged all communistic language from their constitution, don't allow workers to leave or talk, and power is passed from father to son.

I mean, Cuba is poor as shit and they export doctors now.


Their offical line:
>Kimilsungism was founded and has been developed in the course of safeguarding and embodying the ideological and theoretical achievements of Marxism-Leninism. The Juche Idea itself is an idea discovered in the process of the revolutionary struggle waged under the banner of Marxism-Leninism; it is an idea which has opposed all trends of idealism and metaphysics and strictly adhered to the materialistic and dialectic stand. The revolutionary theory of Kimilsungism is also a theory which was founded and enriched in the course of protecting the revolutionary quintessence of Marxist-Leninist theory from bourgeois and opportunist theories and creatively applying and developing it in line with the requirements of the revolutionary practice of our times.
Kim Jong-Il: On Correctly Understanding the Originality of Kimilsungism
>The revolution in each country should be carried out responsibly by its own people, the masters, in an independent manner, and in a creative way suitable to its specific conditions. Independence and creativeness are the inherent requirements of a revolutionary movement, the communist movement.
Kim Jong-Il: On the Juche Idea

In their constitution, it says they are a socialist country. They are supporting the NPA in the Philippines, and have supporting an ultraleft uprising in the 70 in Sri Lanka, just to name a few. I can give sources if you want them.
The power is in the hands of the Supreme People's Assembly. Kim Jong Un (who was also elected by the way) can't completely break with the WPK line and tradition. Head of state is he chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Yong-nam. A monarchy includes per definition that the monarch is head of state.
What's that supposed to mean? Cuba is cool, but there are some things the DPRK does better than Cuba, and vice versa. Cuba sends their weapons to the DPRK to have them fix them. I don't see how this is supposed to be an argument. The DPRK has achieved many things.

This is all very interesting to me. Do you know of any other good sources about the DPRK? I wish to learn more about the country.

Ismail compiled a list of books on the DPRK:
Socialist Korea: A Case Study of Economic Development and North Korea: Another Country are good ones.
This guy taught in the DPRK for 2 years and wrote a book about it. I can't find it online though.

What you could read right now is this very long and very detailed article about elections in the DPRK:

In general, finding an all-around standard work about the DPRK is hard, because most publications focus either on the history, the ongoing tensions with the US or are anecdotal accounts of people living there. Information is scattered. In general, stay away from propaganda works like Marked for Life or The Cleanest Race which claim to approach North Korea from a supposed "unbiased, leftist" perspective but are completely unsourced, argue arround the lines of "human nature" and are based on hearsay. One argument of Myers for example is that a little North Korean girl once turned her head away from him because she was shy. He therefore concluded that the North Koreans are institutionally racist - this is the level of sincerity these guys operate on.

Thanks for the sources, really appreciate it. Also, where can one find more photos of the country? I imagine there isn’t much from outside of Pyongyang and Wŏnsan.

Thanks very much once again.

Oops, wrong post. Polite sage.