Summary of The Real North Korea

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Insight into North Korea’s regime is in short supply. If the Kim rulers were irrational or mad, it would be hard to explain why their dynasty has outlasted the communist governments of Eastern Europe, how it has survived famine and economic failure or how it has held its own through decades of tensions with the world’s superpowers. Professor Andrei Lankov lifts the veil on North Korea and sheds vital light on the reality of its regime, its society and its strategic computations. Lankov, a highly respected scholar on Korea, draws on decades of research, including communications with diplomats and refugees, and his experiences in North Korea as a university exchange student. Although some critics accuse Lankov of offering a Soviet-centric analysis – he was born in Leningrad and received his education in the Soviet Union – he provides a rich, nuanced, accessible overview of North Korea’s history and contemporary society, and a sobering analysis of its possible future. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the North Korean regime functions,
  • How common North Koreans live,
  • Why North Korea won’t give up its nuclear program,
  • What the future holds for North Korea and
  • Whether change is possible in North Korea.

About the Author

Andrei Lankov is professor of History at Koomkin University in Seoul, South Korea. A native of St. Petersburg, 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



North Korea’s Regime

A “National Stalinist” dictatorship has ruled North Korea since the late 1940s. In 1945, the Soviet Union took possession of Korea’s northern half. Moscow chose Kim Il Sung, a Soviet Army captain, to lead the new “People’s Republic.” The Korean Workers Party (KWP) held political control.

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