North Korea: A Strange Socialist Fortress

North Korea: A Strange Socialist Fortress

North Korea: A Strange Socialist Fortress

North Korea: A Strange Socialist Fortress


As perennial famine and material shortages call into question the tenability of North Korea's military-authoritarian government, the international community has struggled to reconcile contradictory humanitarian, economic, and political goals in formulating foreign policy and aid responses to the secretive Pyongyang regime. In a historical analysis drawing heavily on primary sources, Lee attacks the problem at its root: the assumption of policy-makers that Pyongyang's belligerence and intractability is an attempt to secure autonomy and national legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Rather, Lee argues, close review of the available evidence demonstrates convincingly that forced reunification with South Korea is the only discernible goal of the Pyongyang government, and that the key strategy of the reunification program is a war of attrition against the U. S. military presence in the South.

Lee begins with a summary history, and moves on to examine the formation of the North Korean communist state in the wake of World War II. The implementation of state programs in the 1950s and 1960s follows, including the drive towards industrialization, the emergence of the Juche ideology, and collectivization of agriculture. Remaining chapters focus on the recent history of North Korea, and offer concluding analysis and remarks.


This book aims to explain why North Korea is so poor yet so menacing. Both the systemic socialist poverty and the mean behavior of North Korea are widely known: it consistently takes large amounts of free food from countries of goodwill, but threatens their security by fabricating intercontinental missiles while concealing its nuclear weapons program. What is not well known in the concerned countries, however, are the intentions of Pyongyang behind its refusal to change the Communist institutions to alleviate the poverty and to forego the expenses of pursuing weapons of mass destruction.

The menace of North Korea is so unsettling that the United States has reopened the difficult issue of anti-missile defense and launched a new two-path policy toward Pyongyang. Developed under the leadership of a special presidential appointee, the former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, the new policy envisions a first path in which all issues of mutual concern would be settled comprehensively. If Pyongyang refuses to go along, a second path of firmly containing its belligerent acts would be activated. The reason given for formulating the policy on two separate paths laid in opposite directions was that the Perry review team was unable to divine the intentions behind North Korea’s refusenikbelligerent behavior. Not knowing whether Pyongyang intends to agree or aggress, Washington is pushing for agreement while keeping the powder dry for contingent action. This book is designed to uncover those intentions so that the basis for a third policy may be established.

The studies done for the book involved historical analyses of how North Korea acted under what intentions in the past. Despite the paucity of data emanating from North Korea, the very uniqueness of this secre-

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