This book argues that North Korea has outlived forecasts of its collapse because of Juche a unique political institution built on the simple notion of self-determination, whose meanings and limits have been shaped by Koreans experiences with colonialism, war, and development amidst surrounding superpowers that have complicated their aspirations."
North Korea continues to make headlines, arousing curiosity and fear in equal measure. The world’s most secretive nuclear power, it still has Gulag-style prison camps, allows no access to the Internet and bans its people from talking to foreigners without official approval. In this remarkable and eye-opening book, internationally best-selling author Paul French examines in forensic detail the history and politics of North Korea, Pyongyang’s complex relations with South Korea, Japan, China and America, and the implications of Kim Jong-un’s increasingly belligerent leadership following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. As an already unstable North Korea grows ever more unpredictable, antagonizing enemies and allies alike, North Korea: State of Paranoia delivers a provocative and frightening account of a potentially explosive nuclear tripwire.
**Named one of the best books of 2015 by The Economist** Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors. North Korea is one of the most troubled societies on earth. The country's 24 million people live under a violent dictatorship led by a single family, which relentlessly pursues the development of nuclear arms, which periodically incites risky military clashes with the larger, richer, liberal South, and which forces each and every person to play a role in the "theater state" even as it pays little more than lip service to the wellbeing of the overwhelming majority. With this deeply anachronistic system eventually failed in the 1990s, it triggered a famine that decimated the countryside and obliterated the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people. However, it also changed life forever for those who survived. A lawless form of marketization came to replace the iron rice bowl of work in state companies, and the Orwellian mind control of the Korean Workers' Party was replaced for many by dreams of trade and profit. A new North Korea Society was born from the horrors of the era—one that is more susceptible to outside information than ever before with the advent of k-pop and video-carrying USB sticks. This is the North Korean society that is described in this book. In seven fascinating chapters, the authors explore what life is actually like in modern North Korea today for the ordinary "man and woman on the street." They interview experts and tap a broad variety of sources to bring a startling new insider's view of North Korean society—from members of Pyongyang's ruling families to defectors from different periods and regions, to diplomats and NGOs with years of experience in the country, to cross-border traders from neighboring China, and textual accounts appearing in English, Korean and Chinese sources. The resulting stories reveal the horror as well as the innovation and humor which abound in this fascinating country.
In this historically grounded, richly empirical study of social and economic transformation in North Korea, Hazel Smith evaluates the 'marketization from below' that followed the devastating famine of the early 1990s, estimated to be the cause of nearly one million fatalities. Smith shows how the end of the Cold War in Europe and the famine brought radical social change to all of North Korean society. This major new study analyses how marketization transformed the interests, expectations and values of the entire society, including Party members, the military, women and men, the young and the elderly. Smith shows how the daily life of North Koreans has become alienated from the daily pronouncements of the North Korean government. Challenging stereotypes of twenty-five million North Koreans as mere bystanders in history, Smith argues that North Koreans are 'neither victims nor villains' but active agents of their own destiny.
A fascinating land on the edge of the world, despite recent tensions North Korea is a country more accessible than commonly believed. Bradt's North Korea guide is still the market leader after over a decade. Whole new parts of the country have opened up, including the cities of Pyongsong and Hoeryong, and the gorgeously scenic landscape around Haeju, while specialist trips on offer now range from cycling, skiing and architectural tours to travelling right across the land by train. Thoroughly updated throughout with updated and completely new maps, an additional eight pages of photographs, and 100s of links to agencies and organisations that analyse or work with the country, the Bradt Guide to North Korea is the most detailed and comprehensive guide available.
The Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea for over 60 years. Most of that period has found the country suffering under mature Stalinism characterized by manipulation, brutality and tight social control. Nevertheless, some citizens of Kim Jong Il’s regime manage to transcend his tyranny in their daily existence. This book describes that difficult but determined existence and the world that the North Koreans have created for themselves in the face of oppression. Many features of this world are unique and even bizarre. But they have been created by the citizens to reflect their own ideas and values, in sharp contrast to the world forced upon them by a totalitarian system. Opening chapters introduce the political system and the extent to which it permeates citizens’ daily lives, from the personal status badges they wear to the nationalized distribution of the food they eat. Chapters discussing the schools, the economic system, and family life dispel the myth of the workers’ paradise that North Korea attempts to perpetuate. In these chapters the intricacies of daily life in a totalitarian dictatorship are seen through the eyes of defectors whose anecdotes constitute an important portion of the material. The closing chapter treats at length the significant changes that have taken place in North Korea over the last decade, concluding that these changes will lead to the quiet but inevitable death of North Korean Stalinism. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.