Here are some common words or phrases you might encounter on this site and in the lyrics of DPRK music. The goal here is to briefly describe these terms, not to go in depth on them. If you have any suggestions or corrections for this page feel free to put them in the guestbook or email me.
Chollima: “Thousand ri horse.” Chollima imagery is a popular symbol in the DPRK and is generally used to represent speed in development or talent. There are multiple Chollima statues in Pyongyang, but the most famous one is on Mansu Hill and was built in 1961. The Chollima movement was started in the 1950s by Kim Il-sung as a way of motivating North Korean citizens to work hard for their country at the speed of Chollima.
Choson: The Korean word for ‘Korea’ used in the DPRK. The word ‘Hanguk’ is used in the South. Sometimes romanized as “Joson/Joseon” or “Chosen.”
Choson-gul: The Korean writing system. Also known as ‘Hangul’ in South Korea.
Choson-ot: Traditonal Korean dress for both men and women. Also known as ‘hanbok’ in South Korea. Click here to see an example of what it looks like.
DPRK: “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” The English translation of the official name of North Korea. Sometimes referred to as “DPR Korea.”
Fatherland Liberation War: The DPRK’s name for the Korean War (1950-53). The conflict ended in armistice and still has not officially ended, although the fighting stopped in 1953.
Jeju Island: The largest island in South Korea. A popular tourist destination due to its World Heritage Site, Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. Also home to the Mt. Halla National Park. You can read more about Jeju Island here.
Juche: The best, most simplistic way to explain Juche is that it is the DPRK’s own brand of socialism. The concept of Juche was created and popularized by Kim Il-sung, the DPRK’s founder and leader from 1948-1994. The word is usually left untranslated, but can be translated as “self-reliance.” Click here to read more about Juche.
KCNA: Korean Central News Agency.
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun: Also known as the Kumsusan Memorial Palace or the Kim Il-sung Mausoleum. Located in the northeast corner of Pyongyang, the palace serves as a mausoleum to both Kim Il-sung, founder of North Korea, and his son Kim Jong-il. It was built in 1976 as an assembly hall and Kim Il-sung’s official residence. After his death, Kim Jong-il had it renovated and made into a mausoleum.
Mallima: "10,000 ri horse." A mythical winged horse similar to Chollima. The Mallima campaign was launched by the Workers' Party of Korea in 2016 as a new source of inspiration to work hard for the betterment of the DPRK.
Moranbong: Moran Hill, “Peony Hill.” A park located in central Pyongyang, the capital of DPR Korea.
Motherland/Fatherland: ‘jogug’ 조국 in Korean. Is usually translated as either Motherland or Fatherland depending on the context, but a more accurate translation might be ‘ancestor’s land.’
Mt. Paektu: Known as Baekdu in the South, although I will refer to it on this site as Paektu. The mountain sits partially in China and is referred to as ‘Changbai mountain’ there. Mt. Paektu is a sacred place to North Koreans and there is a lot of mythology surrounding it. A large crate lake, called Heaven Lake, can be found at the top. The mountain is important in both Korean folklore and North Korean history, as it was used as a base during the Japanese resistance led by Kim Il-sung and is said to be the birthplace of Kim Jong-il. This has been disputed and other records indicated he was actually born in the Soviet Union. There is a song about his birth called ‘Shine, Jong-il Peak.’
October 10th: Party Foundation Day, the day the “North Korea Bureau of the Communist Party of Korea” was founded, the predecessor to the modern day Workers’ Party of Korea. This day is a very important holiday in the DPRK and many groups put on concerts in celebration of this day.
Pyongyang: Capital and largest city in the DPRK.
Reunification/Unification: The idea that North and South Korea should be unified into one country. There have been attempts to move towards this over the years and people have different ideas on how this can/should be accomplished. The two countries have been divided since 1945, making reunification a complicated topic.
Ri: Unit of measurement sometimes used in both Korea and Japan. It can be traced back to the Chinese ‘li.’ You can read more about Korean units of measurement here.
Rodong Sinmun: 'Workers' Newspaper.' Official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea. An English language version was launched in January of 2012 and can be found here.
Samjiyon: A city in Ryanggang province near the base of Mt. Paektu.
Victory Day/July 27th: "Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War." A national holiday in the DPRK celebrated on July 27th. Like October 10th, the day the Workers' Party of Korea was founded, many concerts have been performed for its celebration. July 27th was the day the armistice was signed, which ended the fighting between the two countries.
Workers' Party of Korea: Ruling political party in North Korea. The WPK flag colors are red and gold and the party’s symbol is the hammer, sickle, and writing brush design. This site’s banner features the Workers’ Party design due to how frequently DPRK songs mention the Party. Commonly referred to as ‘Mother’ or ‘Mother Party’ in song lyrics.