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North Korea More Integrated a Year After Kim Jong-il’s Death, Find Editors of New Book

December 13, 2012


North Korea's recent, successful rocket launch comes at a time when it is undergoing profound transformation laden with uncertainty. Editors Kyung-Ae Park from the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia, and Scott Snyder, CFR senior fellow for Korea studies, bring together the world's leading experts to analyze the challenges the country is facing and its prospects for the future.

Until Kim Jong-il died in December 2011 the North Korean government ranked as one of the worst systems in the world, persisting for more than six decades as a totalitarian regime based on a cult of personality. Under his son Kim Jong-un 2012 has been a major turning point, the authors of North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society conclude. Partial integration with neighbors is replacing isolation, but North Korea continues to play China and the United States against each other. Patronage, the use of government resources to gain political support, is replacing ideology as the leader's primary motivator.

For the comprehensive volume, Park and Snyder tapped fourteen scholars to explore a wide range of issues in North Korea. Charles Armstrong writes about the role of ideology, Bruce Cummings on dynastic succession, Andrei Linkov about the emergence of an entrepreneurial class, David Kang on North Korea's relationship with the United States and the rest of the world, and Terence Roehrig on North Korea's military and nuclear ambitions.

"For over four decades, North Korea has worked to build a formidable ballistic missile force," Roehrig writes. "The KPA [Korean People's Army] has approximately six hundred short-range Scud missiles with the range to cover all of South Korea and two hundred Nodong intermediate-range missiles that can reach Japan, along with U.S. bases there. North Korea continues work on the long-range Taepodong missile, which could reach parts of the United States, but has yet to conduct a successful test launch."

PRAISE FOR North Korea in Transition:

This book meets a pressing need for wide-ranging, timely coverage of North Korea. It offers diverse, sometimes clashing views, especially over the future of the regime. Many chapters cover areas neglected elsewhere, deepening the debate. Others offer strong opinions, trying to steer the debate. Sensibly, the concluding chapter by the two editors draws the arguments together, leaving the reader with a clear sense of the options that lie ahead.
Gilbert Rozman, Princeton University

An important work on the future of North Korea by an outstanding array of practitioners and academic experts. As the Pyongyang regime attempts to consolidate rule under the newest 'Dear Leader,' it will continue to defy simplistic analysis. This book is a great advance to understanding the enigma that is North Korea.
Stephen Bosworth, Tufts University

To order the book click here. To read Snyder's analysis on the December 12, 2012, rocket launch, go to Asia Unbound.