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North Korea Demystified By Han S. Park

Chapter :  Introduction
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North Korea Demystified

The Theoretical Basis

A theory is meant to be useful in addressing empirical and historical problems by helping the social engineering efforts of governments, nongovernmental organizations, civic societies, and individuals. The social engineering process is one of problem solving. In fact, the concept of social engineering was initially designed to solve problems. There are two grand strategies for solving problems. The first one is the incremental approach—that is, if one has a problem, one removes the problem. The other approach is the synaptic approach, in which one tries to strengthen the organism so that the organism is a part of the solution itself. We are of the opinion that both approaches are needed, for they are and should be mutually complementary. Unfortunately, the synaptic approach has been almost completely eliminated in the name of science. Instead of taking a holistic approach, scholars and practitioners look only at specific problem areas in order to surgically treat them.

Though it appears that different political systems experience different current social and political problems, there is a remarkable similarity in the nature and causes of these problems. In this respect, a theory that is widely applicable is more powerful than one that is not. Based on this principle, one might say that a theory that is “macro” as well as “micro” is more viable and superior. At the same time, a theory should offer an explanation that ascertains the causes of a problem. To construct a complete explanation, one needs to know all the factors and forces that can account for the outcome, which is the problem to be addressed.

This study requires such a theory. One concept that has consistently been accepted as universally applicable is that of development, for all societies and political systems experience changes that are often called development. Karl Marx attempted to build a universally applicable theory in his theory of history, but it was a description of the historical evolution of the world that he used as his laboratory—namely, the industrialization of Europe. The Marxist spectrum of historical evolution included both micro and macro perspectives: a micro perspective