North Korea, despite a shattered economy and a populace
suffering from widespread hunger, has outlived repeated forecasts
of its imminent demise. Charles K. Armstrong contends that a major
source of North Korea's strength and resiliency, as well as of its
flaws and shortcomings, lies in the poorly understood origins of
its system of government. He examines the genesis of the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) both as an important yet rarely
studied example of a communist state and as part of modern Korean
North Korea is one of the last redoubts of "unreformed"
Marxism-Leninism in the world. Yet it is not a Soviet satellite in
the East European manner, nor is its government the result of a
local revolution, as in Cuba and Vietnam. Instead, the DPRK
represents a unique "indigenization" of Soviet Stalinism, Armstrong
finds. The system that formed under the umbrella of the Soviet
occupation quickly developed into a nationalist regime as programs
initiated from above merged with distinctive local conditions.
Armstrong's account is based on long-classified documents captured
by U.S. forces during the Korean War. This enormous archive of over
1.6 million pages provides unprecedented insight into the making of
the Pyongyang regime and fuels the author's argument that the North
Korean state is likely to remain viable for some years to come.
Subjects: History, Political Science
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