The North Korean Security State: Examining the North Korean Population through Michel Foucault's Theories of Discipline and Punishment

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Virginia Tech

This thesis uses ideas found in Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish and related works as a theoretic framework for examining daily life in North Korea to understand what type of disciplinary techniques North Korean citizens are subjected to by the North Korean state. This paper will define several disciplinary strategies discussed by Foucault and then show how these strategies are deployed against the North Korean population through multiple examples. Analysis will demonstrate that these disciplinary strategies prevent political instability and suppress ideas dangerous to the North Korean regime, even while the North Korean regime fails to provide basic services for its population. As a result, the reader will have a better understanding of why the North Korean people seem so disciplined and do not rebel against the North Korean regime in the face of state-made disasters and hardships.

Discipline, Power, Knowledge, Panopticon, Michel Foucault, North Korea, Dictatorships, Totalitarianism