In North Korean paintings, history is mobilized to legitimate the North Korean system and its leaders. Utilizing the mode of socialist realism, North Korean paintings give visual form to a socialist world, a utopian vision full of unremitting heroism, harvest, and happiness centered on the ruling Kim family. In these paintings, positive heroes such as laborers, workers, farmers, and children are depicted in historically correct scenes that always propel the North Korean revolution forward. After adopting socialist realism from the Soviet Union, North Korea localized this creative method to meet its specific political needs through medium and content. Through this process, socialist realism came to reflect the ideals of juche, the state ideology of North Korea. Informed by North Korean theoretical writings on art and art reviews, this article examines how history is visually mobilized in three paintings created in 1985 and 2000 through the language of juche realism.

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