The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia

Paperback | December 1, 2014

byAndrei Lankov

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Andrei Lankov has gone where few outsiders have ever been. A native of the former Soviet Union, he lived as an exchange student in North Korea in the 1980s. He has studied it for his entire career, using his fluency in Korean and personal contacts to build a rich, nuanced understanding. In The Real North Korea, Lankov substitutes cold, clear analysis for the overheated rhetoric surrounding this opaque police state. After providing an accessible history of the nation, he turns his focus to what North Korea is, what its leadership thinks, and how its people cope with living in suchan oppressive and poor place. He argues that North Korea is not irrational, and nothing shows this better than its continuing survival against all odds. A living political fossil, it clings to existence in the face of limited resources and a zombie economy, manipulating great powers despite itsweakness. Its leaders are not ideological zealots or madmen, but perhaps the best practitioners of Machiavellian politics that can be found in the modern world. Even though they preside over a failed state, they have successfully used diplomacy - including nuclear threats - to extract support fromother nations. But while the people in charge have been ruthless and successful in holding on to power, Lankov goes on to argue that this cannot continue forever, since the old system is slowly falling apart. In the long run, with or without reform, the regime is unsustainable. Lankov contends thatreforms, if attempted, will trigger a dramatic implosion of the regime. They will not prolong its existence.Based on vast expertise, this book reveals how average North Koreans live, how their leaders rule, and how both survive.

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From the Publisher

Andrei Lankov has gone where few outsiders have ever been. A native of the former Soviet Union, he lived as an exchange student in North Korea in the 1980s. He has studied it for his entire career, using his fluency in Korean and personal contacts to build a rich, nuanced understanding. In The Real North Korea, Lankov substitutes cold,...

Andrei Lankov is Professor of History at Koomkin University in Seoul, South Korea. A native of Leningrad, he studied in North Korea as an exchange student. His books include North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea, and From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea, 1945-1960.

other books by Andrei Lankov

The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia: Life and Politics in the…
The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed S...

Kobo ebook|Mar 21 2013

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:December 1, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199390037

ISBN - 13:9780199390038

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Customer Reviews of The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fascinating, well-written, controversial and realist account of the "hermit kingdom" Lankov is to be applauded for this book. He takes a look at North Korea that most others don't. He looks at it from a realpolitik point of view and makes recommendations that would startle both the left and the right (from everything to reinstating the "sunshine policy" to how the regime can be reformed or defeated). The best parts of the book look at how Kim-Il Sung built North Korea and how it is currently sustained (not always by a totalitarian fist and tries to examine what daily life is like in the DPRK (he was there himself on a student exchange program during his childhood in the Soviet Union. While it could be better footnoted and some of the passages are particularly technical, this book is still a great work that deserves to be read widely
Date published: 2016-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Management Nice book. Good illustration esp. Post unification prediction issued by govt. Leaders
Date published: 2013-08-25

Extra Content

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionTranscription1. The Society Kim Il Sung Built and How He Did ItCaptain Kim Returns HomeThe War and What came afterBetween Moscow and Beijing: The Foreign Policy of Kim Il Sung's North KoreaDealing with the SouthThe Command SocietyA Country of CampsThe World According to Kim Il SungThe Silver Lining in a Social DisasterThe Birth of Juche, the Rise of the Son, and the Slow-Motion Demise of a Hyper-Stalinist Economy2. Two Decades of CrisisAnd Then the World ChangedCapitalism RebornThe State Withers AwayTaking the Exit Option: Not an Exodus Yet, But . . .Arrival in Paradise, aka Capitalist HellChanging Worldviews3. The Logic of Survival (Domestically)Reform as Collective Political SuicidePutting the Genie Back in the Bottle: (Not-So-Successful) Crackdowns on Market ActivityA Disaster That Almost Happened: The Currency Reform of 2009Still Poor and Malnourished, but Starving No More4. The Supreme Leader And His EraThe Belated Emergence of a "Young General"The Sudden Dawn of a New EraCollapse of the old guardThe New PolicyThe New LogicTensions with the South5. Survival DiplomacyPlaying the Nuclear CardAid-Maximizing DiplomacyMeanwhile, in South Korea . . . (the Rise of 386ers and Its Consequences)A Decade of SunshineThe Sun SetsThe Entry of ChinaInterlude The Contours of a Future: What Might Happen to North Korea in the Next Two Decades6. What to Do about the North?Why Sticks Are Not Big EnoughWhy the Carrots Are Not Sweet Enough (and Why "Strategic Patience" Is Not a Great Idea, Either)Thinking Long TermThe Hidden Benefits of EngagementReaching the PeopleWhy They Matter: Working with the Refugees in South Korea7. Being Ready for What We Wish ForA Perfect StormA Provisional Confederation as the Least Unacceptable SolutionSomething about Painkillers . . .ConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Andrei Lankov has written a wonderful introduction to North Korean history and North Korean studies in The Real North Korea. Historians and researchers in other specialties -- particularly involving the history of the Communist world -- will find it a good introduction to the peculiarities ofNorth Korea. Policymakers and staffers in Washington will find a sober-minded, realistic, and -- given the author's personal background as a Soviet academic -- very different take on North Korea than the standard media line. Highly recommended." --History News Network