The North Korean Economy

Overview

Viewed from afar, North Korea may appear bizarre, or positively irrational. But as Nicholas Eberstadt demonstrates in this meticulously researched volume, there is a grim coherence to North Korea's political economy, and a ruthless logic undergirding it—one that unreservedly subordinates economic welfare to augmentation of political power. Thus, paradoxically, even as official policies and practices consign the DPRK economy to a perilous realm between crisis and catastrophe, the country's leadership maintains ...

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Overview

Viewed from afar, North Korea may appear bizarre, or positively irrational. But as Nicholas Eberstadt demonstrates in this meticulously researched volume, there is a grim coherence to North Korea's political economy, and a ruthless logic undergirding it—one that unreservedly subordinates economic welfare to augmentation of political power. Thus, paradoxically, even as official policies and practices consign the DPRK economy to a perilous realm between crisis and catastrophe, the country's leadership maintains unchallenged domestic control and has actually managed to increase its international infl uence.

Through painstaking collection of hard-to-uncover data and careful analysis, Eberstadt provides a quantitative tableau of North Korea's terrible failure in its economic race against South Korea; its stubborn adherence to policies all but guaranteed to stifle growth and undermine economic performance; and the longstanding official effort to ignore, or mitigate, pressures for economic reform.

Eberstadt is skeptical of optimistic accounts from South Korea and elsewhere suggesting that the North Korean leadership is interested in resolving the current nuclear impasse, and getting on with the business of reform and development. So long as Pyongyang's rulers entertain the ambition of reunifying the Korean peninsula on its own terms, Eberstadt argues, economic reforms worthy of the name will be subversive of state authority—and vigilantly resisted by Pyongyang's rulers. This authoritative volume has received widespread attention from Asian specialists, well as those concerned with nuclear proliferation and world peace, and international relations professionals in general.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A]n important contribution to the field… Policy makers will value the book as providing insights and arguments for their policies; academics and students will appreciate the many bold statements that invite a critical and productive discussion.” —Rudiger Frank, The Journal of Asian Review "Eberstadt (American Enterprise Institute), a respected specialist on North Korea, has produced a book that is both readable and credible. Intent on hiding its weaknesses as well as driven by extreme xenophobia, the country has maintained a statistical blackout since the 1960s. Based on the "mirror statistics"—culled from the public records of North Korea's aid donors as well as its trading and investment partners—and much of his own research and analysis, Eberstadt concludes that Pyongyang either reforms or faces a collapse.... The inter-Korea economic relations, e.g., South Korea's generous subsidies, are the most interesting part of the book. This imaginatively researched work sheds much light on the mysterious operations of this Stalinist regime. Highly recommended." —Choice "I have read The North Korean Economy with interests and pleasure... It is a very important contribution to its field of study, and I highly recommend this book to analysts of the North Korean economy." —Mitsuhiko Kimuara, professor, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan "Most of what is written on the North Korean economy consists of useless recitations of half-bakes statistic. Whether one agrees with Nick Eberstadt or not, there is an active, probing intellect behind these essays, and it behooves anyone interested in the North Korean economy to take these writing very, very seriously. Indeed, I cannot imagine doing research on the North Korean economy without referencing this work." —Marcus Noland, senior fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics "There are only a handful of people with the skill and patience required to solve the puzzle of what is happening to North Korea's economy and the implications of North Korea's economic and military policies for the country's economic growth, military strength, and regime survival. Nicholas Eberstadt is among the very best of this group of analysts as this collection of his essays, many updated to the present, demonstrates. Piercing together the few series of reasonably reliable data on North Korea, Eberstadt illuminates the dimensions of the economic crisis that engulfed North Korea in the 1990s. He then goes on to show how the regime has responded to the crisis and its aftermath by seeking aid rather than self-sustaining reform. Anyone with an interest in North Korea should read this book." —Dwight Perkins, professor of economics, Harvard University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412810524
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Eberstadt holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute. He is also a senior adviser to the National Board of Asian Research, a member of the visiting committee at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of the Global Leadership Council at the World Economic Forum. His previous works on Korean affairs include The Population of North Korea(co-author), Korea Approaches Reunification, A New International Engagement Framework for North Korea?, Korea’s Future and the Great Powers (co-editor), and The End of North Korea.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface xi

1 Reform, Muddling Through, or Collapse? 1

2 "Our Own Style of Statistics": Availability and Reliability of Official Quantitative Data 17

3 International Trade in Capital Goods, 1970-1995: Indications from "Mirror Statistics" 61

4 Interlocking Crises in Food, Energy, and Transport Equipment: Indications from "Mirror Statistics" 99

5 Socioeconomic Development in Divided Korea: A Tale of Two "Strategies" 127

6 Prospects for Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation in the "Sunshine" Era 159

7 Economic Recovery in the DPRK: Status and Prospects 197

8 If North Korea Were Really "Reforming" How Could We Tell and What Would We See? 221

9 Economic Implications of a "Bold Switchover" in DPRK Security Policy 245

10 North Korea's Survival Game: Understanding the Recent Past, Thinking about the Future 275

List of Abbreviations and Definitions of Specific Korean Terms 313

Index 317

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