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Print Price: $29.95

288 pp.
6.125" x 9.25"


Publication date:
April 2013

Imprint: OUP US

The Real North Korea

Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia

Andrei Lankov

North Korea is widely regarded as one of the most repressive and dangerous nations in the world - the last Stalinist regime on earth. Yet despite its manifest importance - particularly its potential for destabilizing East Asia - North Korea is notoriously one of the most difficult regimes in the world to study. A black box to most, the regime appears to be fundamentally irrational and unstable. How can it survive? In A Country, Not a Bomb, Andrei Lankov draws from years of research and his own access to North Koreans to provide a genuinely informed and accessible overview of North Korea, from its origins in 1945 to the present. Given its confrontational foreign policy, its nuclear ambitions, and its paranoid leadership cadre, this incredibly poor nation has remained on the front pages ever since the end of the Cold War.

Lankov, who is fluent in both Korean and English, will explain how the regime actually functions and why it has achieved a modicum of stability despite its bizarre mix of Stalinist totalitarianism and hereditary monarchy. Along with covering North Korea's foreign and nuclear policies, the book will also explain how its ruling class actually rules and how ordinary North Koreans live. Perhaps most surprisingly, a grass roots market society is emerging, and Lankov traces how this has happened. Lankov has conducted many interviews with North Korean emigres, so his understanding of both the regime and life under it is remarkably well informed. It will be the definitive account.

Readership : Generally educated public, both left and right, interested in the news, foreign policy, Asian affairs, communism and communist history, post-1945 history, military policy and strategy, and people interested in the aftermath of the collapse of communism. Students and scholars of Political Science and International Relations.

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

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Andrei Lankov is Professor of History at Koomkin University (Seoul). He was born in 1963, in Leningrad in what was then the Soviet Union. He also has studied in North Korea as an exchange student. Then he taught at universities in Russia and Australia, and was Associate Professor at Australia National University (ANU) before moving to Seoul where he now lives with his family.

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Special Features

  • Based on both archival research as well as extensive interviews with North Koreans inside and outside their country, in their native language (a surprisingly rare case in North Korean studies).
  • Challenges some widespread assumptions about North Korea like the idea that 'sooner or later, North Korea will emulate China' (the author demonstrates why this is highly unlikely to happen and if were happen, how it is even less likely to succeed).
  • Challenges two schools of thought which exist in the US foreign policy establishment and in academy when it comes to dealing with North Korea. The book explains why neither a hardliner nor a dove can seem to get the results they want in dealing with the North and why both strategies are flawed.