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

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

byAndrei Lankov

Kobo ebook | April 10, 2013

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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 such an 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 its weakness. 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 from other 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 that reforms, 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.

Title:The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist UtopiaFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:April 10, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

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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