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The Real North Korea
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Andrei Lankov has gone where few outsiders have ever been. A native of the former Soviet Union, he lived as an exchange student in North Korea in the 1980s. He has studied it for his entire career, using his fluency in Korean and personal contacts to build a rich, nuanced understanding. In The Real North Korea, Lankov substitutes cold, clear analysis for the overheated rhetoric surrounding this opaque police state. After providing an accessible history of the nation, he turns his focus to what North Korea is, what its leadership thinks, and how its people cope with living in such an oppressive and poor place. He argues that North Korea is not irrational, and nothing shows this its continuing survival against all odds. A living political fossil, it clings to existence in the face of limited resources and a zombie economy, manipulating great powers despite its weakness. Its leaders are not ideological zealots or madmen, but perhaps the best practitioners of Machiavellian politics that can be found in the modern world. Even though they preside over a failed state, they have successfully used diplomacy-including nuclear threats-to extract support from other nations. But while the people in charge have been ruthless and successful in holding on to power, Lankov goes on to argue that this cannot continue forever, since the old system is slowly falling apart. In the long run, with or without reform, the regime is unsustainable. Lankov contends that reforms, if attempted, will trigger a dramatic implosion of the regime. They will not prolong its existence. Based on vast expertise, this book reveals how average North Koreans live, how their leaders rule, and how both survive.
Product Details

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION ; Part 1. THE SOCIETY KIM IL SUNG BUILT AND HOW HE DID IT ; Part 2: TWO DECADES OF CRISIS ; Part 3. THE LOGIC OF SURVIVAL (DOMESTICALLY) ; Part 4. THE SURVIVAL DIPLOMACY ; Part 5. WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE NORTH? ; Part 6. BEING READY FOR WHAT WE WISH FOR ; CONCLUSION

About the Author

Andrei Lankov is Professor of History at Kookmin University in Seoul, South Korea. A native of Leningrad, he studied in North Korea as an exchange student. His books include North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea, and From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea, 1945-1960.

Reviews

[A] probing, clear-eyed study Lankov's is one of the best and most accessible recent accounts of this seemingly outlandish nation. * Publishers Weekly * Superb,.. An engaging blend of scholarship, reportage and memoir, offers striking details about daily life in a country reminiscent of George Orwell's '1984'. * new York Times Book Review * There is no better road map in English than this wise, anecdotally rich and entertaining book. * Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times * [Lankov's] book is an important curative to the unhelpful gaggle of pundits who describe nuclear-armed North Korea as "irrational" or an impenetrable "black box" * Christian Oliver, Financial Times * This is the best all round account of North Korea yet. * Aidan Foster-Carter, Times Literary Supplement * [ The Real North Korea ] provides an extraordinary insight into a state that defies conventional categories of tyranny. * Oliver Kamm, The Times * Lankov offers a nuanced picture of this secretive country, drawing on his own experience and the North Koreans he has interviewed. * Clare Debenham, THE * In his accessible and refreshingly fair-minded new book, Andrei Lankov does a fine job of making sense of the world's most inscrutable state...it is a commanding overview of the country's politics and society, and a significant contribution to policy debates in the United States and South Korea. * International Affairs Journal *

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