Why does North Korea want to possess nuclear capabilities? In order to find the answer to this question, we must have an accurate understanding of the history and structure of the North Korean regime. So far, we have only formed conjectures and predictions regarding North Korea based on our own perspectives; we now need to deal with and consider North Korea “as is” to reach viable solutions to the issues North Korea presents. This volume contains analyses of the most salient, critical issues pertinent to understanding the North Korean regime, penned by representative Korean scholars of North Korea. As such, the book examines the historical formation of North Korea, the identities of those power elite, and the relative stability (or instability, as the case may be) of the new regime under Kim Jong-un.
Also an important aspect to consider is the possibility of socio-economic change in North Korea. Though North Korea has remained relatively static vis-à-vis its political and military systems, it is in the process of becoming rapidly marketized, having continued various attempts to modify its economic policy. In the social realm, said economic shift has elicited the polarization of the disparate classes and the expansion of individualism. Such social transformations, obscured by the easily visible political reality of North Korea, can provide solid grounds for determining the future of the North Korea regime. Moreover, it is imperative that we accurately understand the motivation behind North Korea’s intention to develop nuclear weapons—namely, the expansion of deterrence. We must recognize the reasons for the North Korean hostility toward the United States from the very beginning of the DPRK formation and the North Korean fixation on nuclear weapons development. Further, we need to understand the nature of relations between China and North Korea—relations on which the international community has focused since North Korea began its nuclear testing—as well as the history and structure of relations between North and South Korea.
Only when we accurately understand North Korea can we reach solutions to the North Korean nuclear issue. The studies in this volume by Korean scholars will reveal the veiled background of the visible phenomena and thereby help the readers to correctly understand the North Korean behaviors hitherto misunderstood (or even those that were impossible to understand).
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Han Jong-woo is visiting professor of the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies, Kyunghee University, project architect of Syracuse University’s information technology project with DPRK’s Kim Chaek University of Technology, and president of the Korean War Veterans Digital Memorial Foundation, Inc.
Jung Tae-hern is professor in the Korean History Department, Korea University, chairman of the Center for Korean History, Korea University, and vice chairman of Inter-Korea Historian Association.
This is a fascinating collection of articles on North Korea by top-notch native South Korean specialists. Balanced, penetrating, and empirically rich analyses. The book is a must read for those who are interested in contemporary North Korea. (Chung-in Moon, Yonsei University)
This book should be read by Korea-concerned scholars, policy makers, media commentators, and the public throughout the world—especially in the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and in both parts of divided Korea. (Glenn D. Paige, chair, Center for Global Nonkilling)
For Americans who want to go beyond the headlines to deepen their understanding of North Korea, this accessible and informative book by knowledgeable South Korean specialists is an excellent starting point. (Leon V. Sigal, director, Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project, SSRC)
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