North Korea and the World: A Bibliography of Books and URLs in English, 1997-2007

By Clemens, Walter C., Jr. | Journal of East Asian Studies, May-August 2008 | Go to article overview
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North Korea and the World: A Bibliography of Books and URLs in English, 1997-2007


Clemens, Walter C., Jr., Journal of East Asian Studies


This survey of books in English on North Korea, 1997-2007, identifies nearly 240 titles--mostly by US authors but also by authors in Australia, Europe, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Russia. The books fall into eleven categories: history and culture; the Korean War revisited; the DPRK regime and its leaders; human fights and humanitarian issues; the economy: Juche, Songun, collapse, or reform; DPRK military assets and programs; relations with the United States; arms control negotiations and outcomes; regional and world security; prospects for North-South unification; and North Korea's future. A final section includes useful websites. This survey points to a wide interest in North Korea and underscores the serious and ongoing efforts of many scholars and policy analysts to understand developments there.

KEYWORDS: North Korea, scholarship, bibliography, history, Korean War, DPRK regime, Kim Jong Il, human rights, economy, military, United States, arms control, negotiation, security, DPRK-ROK unification, peace, future

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The decade from 1997 to 2007 witnessed the rise and fall of many hopes and fears regarding North Korea. Scholars and policy analysts in many countries devoted much attention to strategic, political, and economic issues related to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). What follows is a select list of books published in English on the DPRK in that decade, plus a few notable selections from earlier years. Most of these books are by authors based in the United States, but the list also includes works by authors in Australia, Europe, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Russia. Looked at together, the list points to the great interest in North Korea and underscores the serious and ongoing efforts of many scholars and policy analysts to understand developments there. A full picture of this scholarship would include the thousands of relevant articles published in periodicals such as Asia Policy, Asian Survey, Far Eastern Economic Review, Journal of East Asian Affairs, Journal of East Asian Studies, and the journals that focus exclusively on Korea--for example, Korea and World Affairs--or that deal more generally with international politics and security, such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Worm Politics.

The present listing omits books that focus on South Korea, even though many of those also include valuable references to North Korea--for example, Choong Nam Kim, The Korean Presidents: Leadership for Nation Building (Norwalk, CT: EastBridge, 2007). To save space, this bibliography does not mention forewords or introductions.

Many of the books listed here cover several facets of North Korea, but they fall into eleven main headings, many of which overlap: history and culture; the Korean War revisited; the DPRK regime and its leaders; human rights and humanitarian issues; the economy: Juche, Songun, collapse, or reform; DPRK military assets and programs; relations with the United States; arms control negotiations and outcomes; regional and world security; prospects for North-South unification; and North Korea's future. A final section lists useful websites.

History and Culture

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose? Given the many changes on the Korean peninsula in the past century, this proposition seems implausible. Still, what the French Annales School terms the longue duree counts for something. In some respects, every society is path dependent. Korea's path, of course, has been long and varied. The road forked in 1945. However, many passages in the writings of earlier visitors to the land once known for its morning calm still resonate. See, for example, the narrative of Isabella Bird Bishop, Korea and Her Neighbors (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1897, photocopied in Austin, TX, by BookLab in 1995). See also the Undiplomatic Memories of William Franklin Sands (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1930), p. 56, in which a young US adviser to the Korean emperor describes the struggles for influence by China, Japan, and other countries in "the weakest of Far Eastern countries, not only weak internally but also by having no undisputed official protector or friend among the Western powers.

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