Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform

Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform

by Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland
     
 

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.

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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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231140010
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
05/12/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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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