“This volume does indeed deliver according to its title––it demystifies North Korea, a proud nation that does want peace and normalization. I strongly recommend this book!” - Johan Galtung, Alternative Nobel Prize Winner and founder of TRANSCEND International
- Formats Hardcover, Digital
- Hardcover ISBN 9781604978148
- Pages 320
- Date December 2012
- Size 6 x 9 in or 229 x 152 mm
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North Korea Demystified by Han S. Park
Whereas other studies of North Korea most often rely merely on available secondary resources (e.g., texts, films etc.) rather than firsthand experience or interviews in supporting central claims, this edited volume, led by foremost North Korean expert Dr. Han S. Park, has the unprecedented advantage of all its contributors having actually spent a considerable amount of time “on the ground” in North Korea gathering information for their research. This is also the first volume to address the succession of Kim Jong Un.
It is a fundamental tenet of democratic thought that in democracies, policies are conceived of, fought for, and ultimately approved or denied in the public sphere, subject to review by the court of public opinion. But in a situation in which the public lacks credible information with which to evaluate alternatives critically, this process is distorted, and democracy itself is ultimately subverted.
This is the current situation for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Disconnected from the world, this xenophobic nation has historically gone to great pains to limit the flow of information across its borders. Referred to as an “intelligence black hole” by the BBC and a “rogue nation” in public pronouncements by government officials the world over, the DPRK is shrouded in self made mystery.
With such a paucity of authoritative firsthand information on North Korea available to the citizens of the world’s democracies, discourse on the subject is impeded, and the democratic deficit regarding national policies towards the DPRK (defined here as the difference between what the public would choose if it had all the pertinent information and what the government actually does) is necessarily broadened. More directly, public policy must itself be based upon credible and accurate information if it is to be effective.
Indeed, at no other time has the need for this information been more acute. The six-party talks regarding the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula made plain the DPRK’s ambition (and ability) to play a larger role in world affairs, and its formal nuclear tests have exacerbated the tension and urgency of the situation. The death of Kim Jong Il and succession of his son Kim Jong Un, and recent reopening of bilateral discussions with the United States further increase the necessity of a nuanced understanding of contemporary society within the DPRK. If the world is to effectively deal with the reality of North Korea, reliable information is critical.
North Korea Demystified is a response to this problem. It takes as its point of departure the notion that all leaders and governments, no matter how odd or dysfunctional their behavior may seem, act in a fundamentally rational matter—but that this rationality must be put into context in order to be properly understood. That is, their rationality is not independent of their historical experience, their culture, their value structure, or their institutional constraints, and all of these things must be considered in order to discover the rationality behind the decision making that appears on its surface to be so ‘irrational’ and/or ‘dangerous.’ Only by understanding this can these policy responses be rendered intelligible, perhaps even predictable. In this respect, the book speaks to broader and more timeless themes of theoretical import. As a test case, the book seeks to demystify the “intelligence black hole” that is North Korea. In so doing, it supplies the reader with much needed factual information garnered through firsthand experience by those who have actually visited and done research in North Korea. Each chapter consists of previously unpublished research by prominent experts in the field. The book is organized topically in order to make its information quickly accessible.
The primary goal of the book is to take this perspective and use it to supply the reader with much needed factual information garnered through firsthand experience by those who have visited and done research in North Korea. To that end, the contributors form an impressive array of experts from around the world who provide invaluable, timely insights based on their research. Whereas other studies of North Korea most often rely merely on available secondary resources (e.g., texts, films etc.) rather than firsthand experience or interviews in supporting central claims, this edited volume, led by foremost North Korean expert Dr. Han S. Park, has the unprecedented advantage of all its contributors having actually spent a considerable amount of time “on the ground” in North Korea gathering information for their research.
This volume also differs from most in the breadth of its coverage: its goal is to provide a comprehensive overview of North Korean society rather than an in-depth treatment of any single characteristic of it. North Korea Demystified not only puts a face on the hermit kingdom, but it also provides the reader with the theoretical guidance necessary to actually understand it, placing the Kim family in the broader context of the society in which the family has propagated itself. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, North Korea Demystified represents the first edited volume on North Korea to address the succession of Kim Jong Un.
North Korea Demystified is an important volume for all political science and history collections focused on the politics and cultures of East Asia. In addition to being an invaluable resource to a scholarly audience, the book will also be of interest to policy makers, journalists covering East Asia, businesspersons interested in North Korea as an emerging market, and students (both advanced undergraduate and graduate).
Han S. Park is University Professor of Public and International Affairs and the founding Director (in 1995) of the Center for the Study of Global Issues (Globis) at the University of Georgia. Dr. Park’s areas of specialty include political development, globalization, and comparative politics, with an emphasis on East Asian studies. Among his numerous publications are North Korea: the Politics of Unconventional Wisdom and Human Needs and Political Development. He has been deeply involved in a number of peacemaking initiatives with North Korea. Under his leadership, Globis has hosted several Track II seminars with participants from North Korea, South Korea, and the United States, most recently in October 2011. Dr. Park was also instrumental in realizing former president Jimmy Carter’s trips to Pyongyang in 1994 and 2010, which may well have averted a possible military confrontation between the United States and the DPRK. He has been relentless in his efforts to alleviate the nuclear tension on the Korean peninsula, making more than 50 trips to North Korea since 1990. His work has been widely praised, and in 2010 Dr. Park received the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Award in recognition of his “extraordinary global leadership through nonviolence and reconciliation.” Past recipients of this award have included former South African President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin.
About the contributors:
About Bruce Cumings
Bruce Cumings is Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Chicago. His research and teaching focus is on modern Korean history, 20th-century international history, U.S.–East Asian relations, East Asian political economy, and American foreign relations. He is the editor of the modern volume of The Cambridge History of Korea (forthcoming), and is a frequent contributor to The London Review of Books, The Nation, Current History, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Le Monde Diplomatique. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cumings was also the principal historical consultant for the Thames Television/PBS sixhour documentary, Korea: The Unknown War. In 2007, he won the Kim Dae Jung Prize for Scholarly Contributions to Democracy, Human Rights and Peace. He has just completed Dominion From Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power, and is currently working on a synoptic singlevolume study of the origins of the Korean War, as well as a book on the Northeast Asian political economy.
About Regan Damron
Regan Damron is a consultant in the Washington, DC area providing methodology development and analytical support to unnamed U.S. government clients. Prior to this position, he worked for the U.S. Department of Defense on national security matters. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Georgia.
About Rüdiger Frank
Rüdiger Frank is Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna and the Acting Director of the Vienna School of Governance. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Korea University and at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, as well as a Research Affiliate of the Modern East Asia Research Centre in Leiden, Netherlands. He holds an MA in Korean Studies, Economics, and International Relations as well as a PhD in Economics. He spent one semester as a language student at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang (1991–1992) and has been following North Korea ever since. His research focuses on the transformation of state socialist systems in East Asia, governance in East Asia, and regionalism in East Asia, with a strong emphasis on the Korean peninsula. He also held positions at Humboldt–University Berlin, Columbia University and Korea University. He is a coeditor of the yearly volume Korea: Politics, Economy and Society and of the book series Brill's Korean Studies Library. He has authored or coauthored seven books and over 80 articles on Korea and East Asia and was a consultant to European and Asian governments on Korean affairs, including a testimony before the European Parliament in Brussels and a report on North Korea for the French government. At the University of Vienna, he is responsible for coordinating social sciencebased research on contemporary East Asia. In June 2011, Professor Frank was invited to join the World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Korea.
About Geir Helgesen
Geir Helgesen is Director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies in Copenhagen, Denmark and leading coordinator of the Eurasia Political Culture Research Network (EPCReN). He is also a senior advisor to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Korean matters, as well as a frequent guest lecturer and a widelyused commentator in public media on Korean issues. Dr. Helgesen holds both MA and PhD degrees in Cultural Sociology from Copenhagen University in Denmark. His previous academic appointments include Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Pacific Asia Studies (CPAS) at Stockholm University and a Guest Researcher at the Institute of Comparative Politics, of Bergen University in Norway. In addition, Dr. Helgesen is a consultant to Nordic companies with activities in Korea, as well as a course instructor for the Federation of Danish Industries (DI) concerning Korea and crosscultural business matters. He is the author of several journal articles and four books, including Good Government: Nordic and East Asian Perspectives, which is coauthored with Uichol Kim, and the forthcoming Politics, Culture and Self: East Asian and North European Attitudes, with S.R. Thomsen.
About Jonathan Polk
Jonathan Polk is a PhD candidate in the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia, and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Global Issues. He holds an MA from the University of Georgia, and a BA from St. John’s College. He has published in several journals such as Comparative Political Studies and European Union Politics.
About Hazel Smith
Hazel Smith is Professor of Resilience and Security and Director of the Resilience Centre at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom. Her most recent monograph is Hungry for Peace: International Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Social Change in North Korea. She recently directed three research projects that have each resulted in edited publications (2007). These are Humanitarian Diplomacy: Practitioners and their Craft, edited with Larry Minear of Tufts University; Diasporas in Conflict: PeaceMakers or PeaceWreckers?, edited with Paul Stares of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York; and Reconstituting Korean Security: A Policy Primer. Dr. Smith has undertaken extensive field work in the DPRK, Nepal, China and Nicaragua––carrying out scholarly research and working for various intergovernmental and non governmental organizations. She commentates for the international media on the DPRK, East Asian security, the United Nations and humanitarian assistance. She is regularly interviewed on AsiaPacific security, North Korea and international affairs by the BBC, global media including CNN, Voice of America, and Radio Free Asia; and was recently a panelist for Forum at PressTV, hosted by Andrew Gilligan.
About Alexander Zhebin
Alexander Zhebin is Director of the Center for Korean Studies (CKS) of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies (IFES) of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. He worked for 17 years as a journalist at the TASS News Agency. He served as TASS correspondent in Pyongyang, then TASS Bureau Chief in Pyongyang until 1990. He joined the IFES in 1992. In 1998 he served as First Secretary and Counselor of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the DPRK till 2001. He is author of Pyongyang, Seoul, then Moscow (1991, in Korean) and Luster and Misery of the Kim’s Empire (1992, in Japanese). Dr. Zhebin is also author of numerous articles on political developments in the DPRK, Russia–North Korea relations, and security of the Korean peninsula.