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The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future
     

The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future

4.9 7
by Victor Cha
 

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Former White House official Victor Cha has written the definitive volume on North Korea, arguably the world’s most menacing and mysterious nation. In The Impossible State, Cha, a singular expert on the region, exposes North Korea’s veiled past; sheds light on its culture, economy, and foreign policy; and explores the possibilities of its uncertain

Overview

Former White House official Victor Cha has written the definitive volume on North Korea, arguably the world’s most menacing and mysterious nation. In The Impossible State, Cha, a singular expert on the region, exposes North Korea’s veiled past; sheds light on its culture, economy, and foreign policy; and explores the possibilities of its uncertain future in the post-Kim Jong-il era. A timely and engaging insider’s look at a volatile, and isolationist Asian juggernaut, The Impossible State will carry readers far deeper into this frighteningly adversarial country than they’ve ever traveled before.

Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
“A meaty, fast-paced portrait of North Korean society, economy, politics, and foreign policy by an expert who has studied the regime as a scholar and interacted with its officials.”
Bob Schieffer
“Ask those who deal with national security what worries them most and at the top of the list or near it you’ll always find North Korea, a place about which we know little to nothing. That’s why Victor Cha’s book is so valuable.”
Andrea Mitchell
The Impossible State is provocative, frightening, and never more relevant than today as an untested new leader takes charge of the world’s most unpredictable nuclear power.”
Washington Post
“An up-close, insightful portrait. . . . The Impossible State is a clearheaded, bold examination of North Korea and its future.”
The New Yorker
“Cha demonstrates an intimate familiarity with the regime’s contradictions. . . . The thesis is clear: the world’s most closed-off state needs to open up to survive, but breaking its hermetic seal may well precipitate its demise.”
Library Journal
Over the past two decades, North Korea has survived despite abandonment by its Soviet benefactors, the death of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, economic collapse, and massive starvation. This reclusive state found a way to endure these difficulties while simultaneously developing nuclear weapons. To explain how this happened, Cha (government & Asian studies, Georgetown Univ.; Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sport in Asia) thoroughly examines North Korea's history, ideology, economics, society, and foreign relations. Additionally, Cha argues that North Korea's government will soon collapse because of foreign and domestic pressures, accelerated by the recent death of Kim Jong Il. The regime's demise in the next few years, he says, will create serious challenges for northeast Asia and the United States. Cha supports his claims with a mix of evidence and speculation based on his experience as the former director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration. VERDICT This is essential reading for all North Korea watchers. Cha merges his analysis with personal stories from his experiences as a negotiator in the Six-Party Talks, which makes this an informative and enjoyable read for anyone with an interest in the topic.—Joshua Wallace, South Texas Coll. Lib., McAllen
Kirkus Reviews
From the former director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, an eye-opening view of the closed, repressive dictatorship of North Korea. Cha (Foreign Service/Georgetown Univ.; Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sport in Asia, 2008, etc.) first visited North Korea during George W. Bush's second term with then-governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson to try to defuse nuclear-testing tensions. The author was amazed at the chasm between party haves and everybody else, confirming all that he knew about the authoritarian country. Cha aims to get at some of the pressing questions since Kim Jong-il's death and the succession of the utterly unknown younger son, Kim Jong-un—e.g., what happened to this once-vigorous dictatorship, and why does the populace do nothing about it? How can the West know so little about what really goes on there? For Cha, the key that unlocked the regime's secrets was its nostalgia for the good old days of the 1950s and '60s, when China and the Soviet Union were bolstering North Korean industry and military, while the South was still an agrarian backwater. American aggression during the Korean War left a lasting bitterness, and while the South was grappling with American ambivalence toward its leaders, the North under Kim Il-sung embraced the ideology of juche, or self-reliance, and the cult of the Great Leader. As a result, writes Cha, the North Koreans are simply too oppressed to revolt—not to mention the devastating effects from "Olympic envy" of trying to catch up to Seoul's 1988 hosting, and the terrible famine of the mid '90s. The author looks closely at the Kim family, the terrible economic decisions that plunged the country into poverty, the shocking gulag system, its paranoid nuclear proliferation program and the tenuous relations with South Korea. A useful, pertinent work for understanding the human story behind the headlines.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062200150
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/03/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
146,470
File size:
27 MB
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What People are Saying About This

Bob Schieffer

“Ask those who deal with national security what worries them most and at the top of the list or near it you’ll always find North Korea, a place about which we know little to nothing. That’s why Victor Cha’s book is so valuable.”

Andrea Mitchell

The Impossible State is provocative, frightening, and never more relevant than today as an untested new leader takes charge of the world’s most unpredictable nuclear power.”

Gideon Rose
“A powerful portrait of one of the world’s most troubled and troublesome countries [and] a fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of recent American foreign policy by a leading official. . . . A must-read combination for anybody interested in Korea, east Asia, or global security more generally.”

Meet the Author

Victor Cha served in the White House as Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007. He currently holds the D. S. Song-KF Chair in Government and Asian Studies at Georgetown University and is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

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The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book covers everything about North Korea and the international problems on the peninsula. I have read many books on the topic and this is the best overall read filled with personal details negotiating with North Korea as well as working in government policy. It is easy to read, well organized and insightful. The stories of meeting real people involved in the six party talks make it more easy to understand the complexities of a very difficult situation. The author is straight forward and honest. I am glad my wife told me about it. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredile insight into an incredibly isolated people...and a regime that appears to have no end in sight. The research and personal knowledge of Cho made this the most captivating read I've had in a long time. A great follow-up to this one is The Aquariums of Pyongyang.
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