©2002 Elijah Wald (originally published in Sing Out! )
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In just over five years, North Koreans with East German assistance rebuilt Hamhung as a modern industrial city, and for decades the city would be the main industrial hub of North Korea outside the capital Pyongyang. In 1960 – long before the term would be applied to South Korea – the East German press called North Korea “an economic miracle in the Far East.” 14 In June 1956, Kim Il Sung visited the GDR and personally thanked the East Germans for their help. 15 But from the beginning of the reconstruction process, the DPRK leadership had seen foreign assistance as a limited process that would gradually give way to North Korean self-reliance. 16 In December 1955 Kim made his subsequently famous speech about “Juche” or self –reliance, Originally referring to ideological independence, especially with regard to the Soviet Union, over the course of the next two decades Juche would be extended to all aspects of North Korean behavior, from politics to economics to military defense.