The Political Role of the Military: An International Handbook

By Constantine P. Danopoulos; Cynthia Watson | Go to book overview

NORTH KOREA

Dongsung Kong

North Korea is a remarkably closed country, making it extremely difficult to acquire accurate information about it. The difficulty of measuring the influence of the military in North Korean communist politics is further compounded by the difficulty of distinguishing between military and nonmilitary political actors, as many leading political actors have served or serve in the military or in military-related positions. These research difficulties reflect the characteristics of North Korean politics: closed, secretive, authoritarian, and militaristic.

Most observers share the view that the Korean People's Army (KPA) has played a primary role in North Korean politics since its inception. However, the contingent role of the North Korean military has changed over the years, reflecting the shifting concerns of the North Korean political leadership. A historic overview in relation to the political needs of the times could yield contextual insights into understanding the political role of the North Korean military. In the initial stages of regime building, the KPA served Kim Il-sung as a physical safeguard against his fellow communist opponents. Once the regime was stabilized politically, the primary task of the military was shifted toward socializing the people under the direction of the Korean Workers' Party (KWP). Military intervention in policy decisions weakened as the Pyongyang regime became consolidated. Yet, the military leaders have kept their hands in the distribution of political power among government institutions. One should note that the Pyongyang regime's determination to use force as the only means to achieve its ultimate goal--that is, the communization of the entire Korean peninsula--has never weakened. Today, internally and externally, North Korea is at a crossroads. The country's economic deterioration seems to be too deep to be reversed without opening to the West. Internally, top-positioned revolutionaries are in their natural demise. Kim Il-sung, the country's ultimate leader since 1945, died in July 1994. O Chin-u, the leading military person, followed him in February 1995; and the other politically active revolutionaries are in their 70s and 80s.

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The Political Role of the Military: An International Handbook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Argentina 1
  • Notes 16
  • References 17
  • Brazil 19
  • Notes 34
  • References 41
  • Canada 42
  • Notes 53
  • References 54
  • China 55
  • Notes 67
  • References 70
  • Cuba 71
  • Notes 84
  • References 86
  • Denmark 88
  • Notes 100
  • References 105
  • Egypt 107
  • Notes 118
  • References 121
  • France 122
  • References 141
  • Germany 143
  • Notes 152
  • References 153
  • Greece 154
  • Notes 167
  • References 168
  • India 169
  • Notes 186
  • References 188
  • Indonesia 189
  • Notes 205
  • References 206
  • Iran 207
  • Israel 223
  • Notes 233
  • References 234
  • Japan 235
  • Notes 252
  • References 255
  • Kenya 256
  • Notes 269
  • References 270
  • Mexico 271
  • Notes 281
  • References 282
  • Netherlands 283
  • Notes 295
  • References 297
  • Nigeria 299
  • Notes 320
  • References 322
  • North Korea 323
  • Notes 335
  • References 337
  • Peru 338
  • Notes 355
  • References 360
  • Poland 361
  • Notes 371
  • References 373
  • Republic of South Africa 374
  • Notes 387
  • References 390
  • Russia and the Former Soviet Union 391
  • Notes 401
  • References 403
  • United Kingdom 404
  • Notes 415
  • United States 420
  • Notes 437
  • References 439
  • Zaire 440
  • Notes 456
  • References 458
  • Index 459
  • CONTRIBUTORS 515
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