The calendar borrows elements from two historical calendars used in Korea, the traditional system of Korean era names and the Gregorian calendar in which years are tied to the traditional birth of Jesus. In contrast to these two, the Juche calendar begins with the birth of the founder of the Democratic People's Republic, Kim Il-sung.
The decree on the Juche calendar was adopted on 8 July 1997, on the third anniversary of the death of Kim Il-sung. The same decree also designated the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung as the Day of the Sun. The birth year of Kim Il-sung, 1912 in the Gregorian calendar, became "Juche 1" in the North Korean calendar. Thus, the year 2011 is "Juche 100", and so on. This was done as a means of advancing Kim Il-sung's cult of personality.
The calendar began to be implemented on 9 September 1997, the Day of the Foundation of the Republic. On that date, newspapers, news agencies, radio stations, public transport, and birth certificates began to use Juche years.