Inside the Red Box: North Korea's Post-totalitarian Politics

Kobo ebook | December 22, 2010

byPatrick McEachern

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Traditional political models fail to account for North Korea's institutional politics, making the country's actions seem surprising or confusing when, in fact, they often conform to the regime's own logic. Drawing on recent primary materials, including North Korean speeches, commentaries, and articles, Patrick McEachern, a specialist on North Korean affairs, reveals how the state's political institutions debate policy and inform and execute strategic-level decisions.

Many scholars dismiss Kim Jong-Il's regime as a "one-man dictatorship" and call him the "last totalitarian leader," but McEachern identifies three major institutions that help maintain regime continuity: the cabinet, the military, and the party. These groups hold different institutional policy platforms and debate high-level policy options both before and after Kim and his senior leadership make their final call. This method of rule may challenge expectations, but North Korea does not follow a classically totalitarian, personalistic, or corporatist model. Rather than being monolithic, McEachern argues, the regime, emerging from the crises of the 1990s, rules differently today than it did under Kim's father, Kim Il Sung. The son is less powerful and pits institutions against one another in a strategy of divide and rule. His leadership is fundamentally different: it is "post-totalitarian." Authority may be centralized, but power remains diffuse. McEachern maps this process in great detail, supplying vital perspective on North Korea's reactive policy choices, which continue to bewilder the West., reviewing a previous edition or volume

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Traditional political models fail to account for North Korea's institutional politics, making the country's actions seem surprising or confusing when, in fact, they often conform to the regime's own logic. Drawing on recent primary materials, including North Korean speeches, commentaries, and articles, Patrick McEachern, a specialist o...

Patrick McEachern is a foreign service officer in Seoul supporting the Six Party Talks and a former North Korea analyst with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. His publications have appeared in Asian Survey, Journal of East Asian Studies, and Korea Yearbook.
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:December 22, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231526806

ISBN - 13:9780231526807

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
2. Post-totalitarian Institutionalism
3. Historical Context
4. North Korea's Political Institutions
5. Institutional Jostling for Agenda Control, 1998--2001
6. Segmenting Policy and Issue Linkages, 2001--2006
7. Policy Reversals, 2006--2008
8. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

McEachern's book is a highly useful source for those interested in a comprehensive and nuanced overview of North Korean domestic and foreign policies in the Kim Jong Il era.