Authorship is the key site where the power of North Korea's leader gathers itself. The founding father, Kim Il Sung, “authored” the nation by scripting the philosophico-political text Juch'e. But this element of leader-as-author—the “king” who is also “philosopher”—is constitutively blocked in the exogenic representations we might call “liberal democratic.” The blockage, this article argues, results from liberal democracy's disavowed investment in its own philosopher-king, what Jacques Lacan called the “big Other.” The Lacanian big Other is one in whom “being” and “knowledge” coincide, on whose account ordinary subjects need not assume knowledge in their own existence. Marx, for North Korea, staked out the opposite: named the “first leader,” Marx was above all an author who exemplified what it means to assume knowledge in one's own existence. Marxist North Korea can be seen as a response to the West's hysterical relation to the big Other.

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