ISSN : 0023-3900
This paper investigates North Korean patriotism. It seeks to establish whether a state that has overwhelmingly failed to provide basic public goods can nevertheless produce and sustain the devotion and support of some or all of the population— in other words, arouse patriotic sentiment—and if so, on what terms. The paper approaches the topic using a modified version of the International Social Survey Programme’s national identity survey, specifically those questions that deal with national pride. Using survey findings and selected follow-up interviews, we examine the presence or absence of patriotic sentiment among more than 650 former residents of North Korea. The paper also takes a comparative approach, comparing North Korean patriotism findings with those from former socialist countries to determine whether any patterns exist. We find evidence that, despite enormous state failures, the North Korean state has managed to generate a sense of patriotism and accomplishment for selected components of its state and society, notably in the cultural sphere (e.g., arts and sports). Data from other former socialist states produce similar findings.