ICS Occasional Papers

Constructing the "Homeworld" and "Alienworld": Understanding North Korea Through Propaganda Posters

“In the arts of representation are found the real origins and organs of social control..What then is a King? He is a King’s portrait,and that alone makes him a King.” 

Propaganda art plays a major role in not only conveying the ideas of the regime but also in building an “Us” versus “Them” narrative that aids regime legitimacy. Through the application of the Tartu School’s Cultural Semiotic approach and the Lifeworld concept, this paper presents a thematic study of 42 propaganda posters released by the North Korean State since the end of the Korean War (1950-1953) i.e. from 1953 till 2021, and through it, seeks to understand the nature and unique characteristics of North Korean Communism, its visions of past and future, the retention of pre-Communist ideologies as well as its changing perceptions of the desirable and undesirable traits in the populace vis à vis socioeconomic changes at home and abroad.

Keywords: Propaganda, North Korea, Homeworld, Alienworld, Regime Legitimacy



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