Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform

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Overview

In the mid-1990s, as many as one million North Koreans died in one of the worst famines of the twentieth century. The socialist food distribution system collapsed primarily because of a misguided push for self-reliance, but was compounded by the regime's failure to formulate a quick response-including the blocking of desperately needed humanitarian relief.

As households, enterprises, local party organs, and military units tried to cope with the economic collapse, a grassroots process of marketization took root. However, rather than embracing these changes, the North Korean regime opted for tentative economic reforms with ambiguous benefits and a self-destructive foreign policy. As a result, a chronic food shortage continues to plague North Korea today.

In their carefully researched book, Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland present the most comprehensive and penetrating account of the famine to date, examining not only the origins and aftermath of the crisis but also the regime's response to outside aid and the effect of its current policies on the country's economic future. Their study begins by considering the root causes of the famine, weighing the effects of the decline in the availability of food against its poor distribution. Then it takes a close look at the aid effort, addressing the difficulty of monitoring assistance within the country, and concludes with an analysis of current economic reforms and strategies of engagement.

North Korea's famine exemplified the depredations that can arise from tyrannical rule and the dilemmas such regimes pose for the humanitarian community, as well as the obstacles inherent in achieving economic and political reform. To reveal the state's culpability in this tragic event is a vital project of historical recovery, one that is especially critical in light of our current engagement with the "North Korean question."

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Financial Times - Anna Fifield
A rigorous study.
New York Sun - Claudia Rosett
This book belongs on the list of required reading.
The Bloomsbury Review - Terry Hong
This is a haunting, exasperating, sobering look at an ongoing tragedy.
Acta Koreana - Brian Myers
The quality of analysis and prose is consistently high throughout.
Asia Policy - Chung Min Lee
Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform offers a systematic bird's eye view of the fundamental causes and consequences of North Korea's famine.
Development and Change - Raghav Gaiha
Famine in North Korea is as good as the best of its genre.
Journal of Economic Literature - Stephen Devereux
[An] essential book.
The Journal of Asian Studies - Suzy Kim
This book will be of interest to those in the Korean studies field as well as among humanitarian and public policy circles
Financial Times
A rigorous study.

— Anna Fifield

New York Sun
This book belongs on the list of required reading.

— Claudia Rosett

The Bloomsbury Review
This is a haunting, exasperating, sobering look at an ongoing tragedy.

— Terry Hong

Acta Koreana
The quality of analysis and prose is consistently high throughout.

— Brian Myers

Swarthmore College Bulletin
A comprehensive and penetrating account.
Choice

A readable, well-researched, and insightful analysis... Highly recommended.

Asia Policy
Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform offers a systematic bird's eye view of the fundamental causes and consequences of North Korea's famine.

— Chung Min Lee

The Lancet
Backed by data treated with appropriate caution, Haggard and Noland cogently present the sad North Korean story... [An] impressive work.
Development and Change
Famine in North Korea is as good as the best of its genre.

— Raghav Gaiha

Journal of Economic Literature
[An] essential book.

— Stephen Devereux

The Journal of Asian Studies
This book will be of interest to those in the Korean studies field as well as among humanitarian and public policy circles

— Suzy Kim

Choice
A readable, well-researched, and insightful analysis... Highly recommended.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231140010
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,449,822
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephan Haggard is the Lawrence and Sallye Krause Professor at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Pathways from the Periphery; The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions (with Robert Kaufman); and The Political Economy of the Asian Financial Crisis.Marcus Noland is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a senior fellow at the East-West Center. He has served as an occasional consultant to such organizations as the World Bank and the National Intelligence Council.

Columbia University Press

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Read an Excerpt

This is a book that must be read by people interested in the economics of poverty and hunger, or in the politics of authoritarianism, or in the role-and the difficulties-of international assistance in the miserable world in which we live. It is an admirable contribution on a truly important subject. -- From the foreword by Amartya Sen, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics

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Table of Contents


List of Figures     ix
List of Tables     xi
List of Abbreviations     xiii
Foreword   Amartya Sen     xv
Preface     xxi
Introduction: Famine, Aid, and Markets in North Korea     1
Perspectives on the Famine
The Origins of the Great Famine     21
The Distribution of Misery: Famine and the Breakdown of the Public Distribution System     51
The Dilemmas of Humanitarian Assistance
The Aid Regime: The Problem of Monitoring     79
Diversion     108
The Political Economy of Aid     126
Dealing with a Changing North Korea
Coping, Marketization, and Reform: New Sources of Vulnerability     165
Conclusion: North Korea in Comparative and International Perspective     209
Illicit Activities     245
The Scope of the Humanitarian Aid Effort     249
The Marketization Balance Sheet     259
Notes     263
References     283
Index     303
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