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Immunity to resistance? State-society relations and political stability in North Korea in a comparative perspective

Szalontai, Balazs / Choi, Changyong

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Abstract

Purpose - This article investigates whether certain social and subnational groups that have shown resistance against other one-party states might play a similar role in North Korea. Design/methodology/approach - Comparing the DPRK with various Communist regimes and Baathist party-states in Syria and Iraq, this article examines the following social groups as potential factors of resistance: industrial workers, private entrepreneurs, and religious, ethnic and regional identities. Findings - Resistance has not been wholly absent in North Korean, but the disaffected social groups have lacked sufficient bargaining power, while the state has occasionally refrained from steps that triggered protests in other countries. Practical implications - By comparing the DPRK with various types of regimes (pre-reform Communist systems, partially market-oriented Communist systems, and Baathist party-states), the article also seeks to investigate whether the dynamics of North Korean society is largely unique, or if it can be at least partially explained by means of analogy. Originality/value - While many studies have investigated the potential for collapse in North Korea, most of these were commonly focused on the capabilities of the North Korean state, rather than the peculiarities of the social environment in which it operated. © 2014 McFarland & Company, Inc.

Issue Date
2014
Publisher
MCFARLAND & COMPANY
DOI
10.3172/NKR.10.1.55
Journal Title
NORTH KOREAN REVIEW
Start Page
55
End Page
70
ISSN
1551-2789
Language
English
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