North Korea: State of Paranoia: A Modern History

Overview

North Korea  is a country  that continues  to make headlines—arousing curiosity and fear in equal measure.  The world’s most secretive nuclear power, it is a nation that still has Gulag-style prison camps, no internet, and bans its people from talking to foreigners without official approval. In this remarkable and eye-opening book, bestselling author Paul French takes the reader inside the world’s most secretive country. He examines the history and politics of North Korea, Pyongyang’s complex ...

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Overview

North Korea  is a country  that continues  to make headlines—arousing curiosity and fear in equal measure.  The world’s most secretive nuclear power, it is a nation that still has Gulag-style prison camps, no internet, and bans its people from talking to foreigners without official approval. In this remarkable and eye-opening book, bestselling author Paul French takes the reader inside the world’s most secretive country. He examines the history and politics of North Korea, Pyongyang’s complex relations with South Korea, Japan, and America. As China begins to tire of its unruly ally, what are the implications of Kim Jong-un’s increasingly belligerent leadership following  the death of his father, Kim Jong-il? As an already unstable North Korea grows  ever  more unpredictable,  antagonizing  enemies and allies alike, North Korea: State of Paranoia, delivers a provocative and frightening account of a potentially explosive nuclear tripwire.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Paul French writes with wit, eloquence and rare clarity about the complicated history of North Korea." - Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea

"North Korea's ability to worry and shock remains perhaps the only predictable aspect of the country's behaviour. Paul French's no-nonsense approach to understanding the country's history, political system, ideology and what remains of its decimated economy is one of the best introductions to a country that does all it can to resist outside inspection and comprehension. This is the most accessible starting point for anyone wanting to understand the hermit kingdom." - Kerry Brown, Professor and Director, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney, Australia

"This clear-eyed overview to North Korea's modern history is packed full of fascinating detail. French ably outlines the hermit kingdom's ideology, economic system and haphazard efforts at reform, while simultaneously revealing why pickpockets target Kim Il-sung badges, what the North Korean cabinet's position is on lice and why smoking can be a small act of resistance." - Louisa Lim, Beijing correspondent, NPR

Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-17
A thorough probing of the ongoing causes behind North Korea's "march of misery."There is no shortage of recent works by Westerners attempting to crack the deeply insulated pariah state of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, most notably Andrei Lankov's The Real North Korea and Victor Cha's The Impossible State. Yet Shanghai-based Asia commentator French (Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China, 2012, etc.) offers excellent insight into the economic machinations that have kept the Kim dynasty afloat since 1948 despite catastrophic cycles of industrial collapse, famine, nuclear brinkmanship and military oppression. One of the last Cold War holdouts, the DPRK, unlike China, is so entrenched in its guiding philosophy of Juche, or self-sufficiency, that it has been unable to instigate the same kinds of economic reforms as China. Not without trying: French carefully looks at the North Korean attempts, under Kim Jong-il and the watchful eyes of the Chinese, to instigate some much-needed reforms in 2002—e.g., price reforms and the ending of the public distribution system, along with the implementation of a special economic zone, Sinuiju, which failed largely due to the lack of any infrastructure in the area. The wasteful and absurd policies of the rigid command economy mean there is no room for the development of private enterprise. Coupled with the discouragement of foreign investment, outmoded industry, unwise agricultural systems and underutilized natural resources, French sees the recipe for repeated economic stagnation and decline, forcing the DPRK to rely on subsidies from the Soviet Union (while they lasted) and China. As long as the Kim leadership pursues its "military first" campaign, thereby spending its precious resources on a huge standing army rather than feeding its own people or engaging diplomatically, the "drip-feeding" by the West will be its only sustaining option.An astute work that examines all facets of this Orwellian state.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781780329475
  • Publisher: Zed Books
  • Publication date: 5/27/2014
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 318,137
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul French, born in London and educated there and in Glasgow, has lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. He is a widely published analyst and commentator on Asia, Asian politics and current affairs. Paul was awarded the 2013 Edgar for best fact crime for his international  bestseller Midnight in Peking. He is currently based in Shanghai, China.

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Table of Contents

Part I:Empty Shelves
Chapter 1: A Normal Day in Pyongyang
Chapter 2: The Juche State
Chapter 3: The Revolutionary Dynasty
Part II: The Economics of North Korea: Chollima, Speed Battles, Collapse and Famine
Chapter 4: Economics Pyongyang Style
Chapter 5: The Worst of Times - Food, Famine & the Arduous March
Chapter 6: The Start of a Sort of Reform
Chapter 7: The Reality of Reform
Part III: Diplomacy and Military: Foreign Relations, Nuclear Crisis and Self-Defence
Chapter 9: Don't Poke the Snake - A fragile relationship between the US and DPRK
Chapter 10: Nuclear Ambitions Unveiled
Chapter 11: Something Different Emerges - Military-First
Part IV: Change, Collapse and Reunification
Chapter 11: The Dream of Reunification
Chapter 12: How will it all end?
Chapter 13: The World's Most Dangerous Tripwire

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