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North Korean poster :지식은 창조와 건설의 최대의 재부!

I am struggling to parse this sentence.

It looks to me a bit like "Knowledge is a property of the best of creation and building", but I'm not confident that's a sensible translation.

Even 최대의 재부 on its own doesn't quite make sense to me. I believe the more common South Korean would be "최대의 재산". With the placement of 의, it seems like 'property of the best', or 'asset of the maximum', but I'm sure those aren't good idiomatic translations.

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  • I am aware that some posters of this style might be a bit politically sensitive but I hope this one isn't controversial in any way. – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 27 '16 at 10:31
  • I don't think the phrase is that sensitive. – user7 Aug 27 '16 at 11:20
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    This is a good example that shows why Korean linguists try to make a dictionary that contains both North/South Korean words. As a native speaker, I am pretty sure that in South Korea, the word "재부" is seldom used and people use "재산" or "자산" in this situation. If this slogan is written in South Korea, the word 재부 will be substituted with 자산. – jungyh0218 Aug 29 '16 at 8:42
  • +1 for reminding us that 북한 believes that CRT monitors, computers that take up entire rooms, and people walking along using paper books instead of 4G wireless devices represent knowledge and progress :( don't miss the school marm wielding her 회초리 ready to beat your western ideas back into oblivion! – 제이 죤스톤 Feb 9 '17 at 20:07
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Adding to @gaeguri's answer, the word '창조' seems to have a different meaning in North Korean as the linked Naver North Korean dictionary indicates:

[북한어 (North Korean)] 주의, 사상, 학설 따위를 처음으로 만들어 낸 사람. A person who invented (made, created) a principle (ideology/idea or belief), philosophy or theory.

Its Chinese characters are '創祖' and you should note that '祖' here means (1) grandfather, (2) ancestor and (3) beginning or start, etc. '祖' is different from '造' which is used in South Korean meaning to build or create.

Therefore, the phrase could be translated to

Knowledge is the greatest asset for inventor (creator) of communist theory and building of communist society.

Even if '창조' has the same meaning as South Korean, i.e., 'creation', it could be translated to

Knowledge is the greatest asset for creation and building of communist society.

Their catchphrase or slogans are generally politically motivated and they are almost always about praising their leaders and ideology. It seems obvious what they want to create and build.

A side note: As you mentioned, the phrase is related with the North Korean political ideology, i.e., 주체사상 (Juche Idea or Self-reliance Idea). As a non-expert of North Korean, the above is the best I could possibly translate.

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First of all, according to this post on Naver knowledge search, 재부 is, as you guessed, a North Korean version of "재산". So it can mean property, assets, riches, etc.

The phrase "최대의 ~" can mean "The greatest ~" - so here, "the greatest asset" or "the greatest riches". So the above phrase could be "Knowledge is the greatest asset of creation and building", though I think a somewhat less literal translation could be "Knowledge is the greatest product of creating and building".

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