Meaning and origins of «Juche». Rules of Juche and before-Juche dating
Juche (주체) is referred to as the official state ideology of North Korea. This ideology was announced in 1955 by Kim Il-Sung, the first leader of North Korea. His son Kim Jong-Il was the Supreme Leader of North Korea from 1994 until his death in December 2011, and he adhered to a policy of Juche too.
The ideas of Juche (the stress falls upon the last syllable, i.e. «å») teach that «man is the master of everything and decides everything», and that the Korean people are the masters of Korea's revolution. Juche also proclaims independence in politics, self-sustenance in the economy, as well as self-defence in national defence.
The «Juche calendar» was officially introduced in North Korea on July 8, 1997 AD. The Juche era begins on April 15, 1912 AD, — the date of birth of Kim Il-Sung. Hence, 1912 AD is Juche year 1. The Gregorian calendar counted since the Nativity of Christ is also in use in North Korea, and in many instances the Juche year is given after the AD year, for example, 27 June 2007 Juche 96. However, in North Korean publications and on the coins of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Juche year is usually placed before the corresponding AD year, as follows: Juche 90 (2001).
According to the Korean Central News Agency, the Central People's Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea formulated a set of rules regarding the use of the Juche Era calendar on August 25, 1997. Where a date occurs before 1912, the conventional Gregorian calendar year is used, so that there is no «negative» Juche year, or «Before Juche» concept. For example, 1586 would still be rendered as «1586», while 2010 would be rendered as Juche 99, 2010 or 주체 99 (2010).
Calendar schemes based on political eras are also found in the Japanese era name (Nengo system) and in the Minguo calendar used in the Republic of China (Taiwan). Incidentally, the year numbers of the Juche calendar, Minguo calendar, and Japan's Taisho period correspond to each other even though they were not meant to be related. So on January 1st, 2011, both North Korea and Taiwan faced the Y1C Problem.
Formulae for date calculation
Here is the formula for converting the Juche date to the year of the Gregorian calendar:
Year AD = 1912 + Year Juche – 1.
Conversely, if we are asked to get Juche from the date of the Gregorian calendar, another formula should be used:
Year Juche = Year AD – 1912 + 1.
Currency of North Korea in the era of financial reform
The monetary unit of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the North Korean Won. 1 won is subdivided into 100 chon.
One of the most significant events for both the North Korean economy and monetary system in recent times was the revaluation of November and December, 2009. Before it was announced and carried out, the bank notes with values 1 to 5,000 won had been in use, as well as coins with values 10, 50 and 100 won. So, at the end of November 2009 the won was revalued at a ratio of 100 to 1. On December 1, 2009 the coins with the new denominations were introduced into circulation, i.e.: 10, 50 chon and 1 won. These coins are dated both Juche 91 and 2002 AD, and that's not a mistake. They had really been minted in 2002, though their introduction into circulation only began on December 1, 2009.
Unfortunately, the 2009 revaluation reform failed to benefit North Korea: a large number of sales outlets were shut down along with manufacturing enterprises. Inflation increased rapidly and is still growing. The currency exchange policy seems to be rather specific, just like the money exchange that was taking place at the time of the collapse of the USSR: low upper limit of money subject to exchange, being implemented at short notice and at an unprofitable ratio. The maximum amount of money that can be exchanged at the approved common rate 100 to 1 is still 100,000 won. It is allowed to exchange amounts of money exceeding 100,000 won, but at the rate of 1000:1, that is, with the loss of 90% of the initial value.
It goes without saying that people lost their life's savings; this fact inevitably led to massive popular unrest. North Korean citizens publicly burned piles of pre-reform banknotes as a protest. Kim Jong-Il was totally dissatisfied with this situation. Therefore top official Pak Nam Gi who oversaw currency revaluation was sentenced to be shot in the first half of March, 2010. He was executed on the charge of the epic failure of North Korean monetary reform.