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Fifty-five years after its founding at the dawn of the cold war, North Korea remains a land of illusions. Isolated and anachronistic, the country and its culture seem to be dominated exclusively by the official ideology of Juche, which emphasizes national self-reliance, independence, and worship of the supreme leader, General Kim Jong Il. Yet this socialist utopian ideal is pursued with the calculations of international power politics. Kim has transformed North Korea into a militarized state, whose nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and continued threat to South Korea have raised alarm worldwide. This paradoxical combination of cultural isolation and military-first policy has left the North Korean people woefully deprived of the opportunity to advance socially and politically. The socialist economy, guided by political principles and bereft of international support, has collapsed. Thousands, perhaps millions, have died of starvation. Foreign trade has declined and the country's gross domestic product has recorded negative growth every year for a decade. Yet rather than initiate the sort of market reforms that were implemented by other communist governments, North Korean leaders have reverted to the economic policies of the 1950s: mass mobilization, concentration on heavy industry, and increased ideological indoctrination. Although members of the political elite in Pyongyang are acutely aware of their nation's domestic and foreign problems, they are plagued by fear and policy paralysis. North Korea Through the Looking Glass sheds new light on this remote and peculiar country. Drawing on more than ten years of research—including interviews with two dozen North Koreans who made the painful decision to defect from their homeland—Kongdan Oh and Ralph C. Hassig explore what the leadership and the masses believe about their current predicament. Through dual themes of persistence and illusion, they explore North Korea's stubborn adherence to policies that have failed to serve the welfare of the people and, consequently, threaten the future of the regime. Featuring twenty-nine rare and candid photos taken from within the closely guarded country, North Korea Through the Looking Glass illuminates the human society of a country too often mischaracterized for its drab uniformity—not a "state," but a community of twenty million individuals who have, through no fault of their own, fallen on exceedingly hard times.
As tensions remain on the Korean peninsula, this book looks back on the decade of improved inter-Korean relations and engagement between 1998 and 2008, now known as the ‘Sunshine Policy’ era. Moving beyond traditional economic and political perspectives, it explores how this decade of intensified cooperation both affected and reshaped existing physical, social and mental boundaries between the two Koreas, and how this ‘de-bordering’ and ‘re-bordering’ has changed the respective attitudes towards the other.

Based around three key themes, ‘Space’, ‘People’, and ‘Representations’, this book looks at the tangible and intangible areas of contact created by North-South engagement during the years of the Sunshine Policy. ‘Space’ focuses on the border regions and discusses how the border reflects the dynamics of multiple types of exchanges and connections between the two Koreas, as well as the new territorial structures these have created. ‘People’ addresses issues in human interactions and social organizations, looking at North Korean defectors in the South, shifting patterns of North-South competition in the ‘Korean’ diaspora of post-Soviet Central Asia, and the actual and physical presence of the Other in various social settings. Finally, ‘Representations’ analyses the image of the other Korea as it is produced, circulated, altered/falsified and received (or not) on either side of the Korean border.

The contributors to this volume draw on a broad spectrum of disciplines ranging from geography, anthropology and archaeology, to media studies, history and sociology, in order to show how the division between North and South Korea functions as an essential matrix for geographical, social and psychological structures on both sides of the border. As such, this book will appeal to students and scholars from numerous fields of study, including Korean studies, Korean culture and society, and international relations more broadly.

Seminar paper from the year 2009 in the subject Politics - International Politics - Topic: International Organisations, grade: 1,0, University of Bamberg (Lehrstuhl für Internationale Beziehungen), course: International Institutions, language: English, abstract: When one wants to understand international regimes – their formation, maintenance and breakdown, the best way to begin is to try analysing these aspects by looking at and using theories connected to these specific problems. In our case we have a set of three main theories that are concerned with the wide field of international regimes: interest-based neoliberalism, power-based neorealism and knowledge-based cognitivism. Each of those theories has a unique view of international regimes and the phenomena related to them, although when looked at closer, one notices that they do in fact have several things in common. Of these three, neoliberalism and neorealism are both rooted in and based on the theory of rational choice – that is rationalism. Within the boundaries of rationalism however they do preserve their own interpretations of international regimes. In this essay we will therefore focus on the converging aspects of neoliberalism and neorealism as well as on their differences. Thus in the end it is our goal to show possible ways of how these two rationalistic approaches could be amalgamated so that their advantages may be used in a combined form by future political scientists, not ignoring the difficulties that one faces, when making such an attempt.
This Oxford Handbook is the definitive volume on the state of international security and the academic field of security studies. It provides a tour of the most innovative and exciting news areas of research as well as major developments in established lines of inquiry. It presents a comprehensive portrait of an exciting field, with a distinctively forward-looking theme, focusing on the question: what does it mean to think about the future of international security? The key assumption underpinning this volume is that all scholarly claims about international security, both normative and positive, have implications for the future. By examining international security to extract implications for the future, the volume provides clarity about the real meaning and practical implications for those involved in this field. Yet, contributions to this volume are not exclusively forecasts or prognostications, and the volume reflects the fact that, within the field of security studies, there are diverse views on how to think about the future. Readers will find in this volume some of the most influential mainstream (positivist) voices in the field of international security as well as some of the best known scholars representing various branches of critical thinking about security. The topics covered in the Handbook range from conventional international security themes such as arms control, alliances and Great Power politics, to "new security" issues such as global health, the roles of non-state actors, cyber-security, and the power of visual representations in international security. The Oxford Handbooks of International Relations is a twelve-volume set of reference books offering authoritative and innovative engagements with the principal sub-fields of International Relations. The series as a whole is under the General Editorship of Christian Reus-Smith of the University of Queensland and Duncan Snidal of the University of Oxford, with each volume edited by a distinguished pair of specialists in their respective fields. The series both surveys the broad terrain of International Relations scholarship and reshapes it, pushing each sub-field in challenging new directions. Following the example of the original Reus-Smit and Snidal The Oxford Handbook of International Relations, each volume is organized around a strong central thematic by a pair of scholars drawn from alternative perspectives, reading its sub-field in an entirely new way, and pushing scholarship in challenging new directions.
North Korea's institutional politics defy traditional political models, making the country's actions seem surprising or confusing when, in fact, they often conform to the regime's own logic. Drawing on recent materials, such as North Korean speeches, commentaries, and articles, Patrick McEachern, a specialist on North Korean affairs, reveals how the state's political institutions debate policy and inform and execute strategic-level decisions.

Many scholars dismiss Kim Jong-Il's regime as a "one-man dictatorship," calling him the "last totalitarian leader," but McEachern identifies three major institutions that help maintain regime continuity: the cabinet, the military, and the party. These groups hold different institutional policy platforms and debate high-level policy options both before and after Kim and his senior leadership make their final call.

This method of rule may challenge expectations, but North Korea does not follow a classically totalitarian, personalistic, or corporatist model. Rather than being monolithic, McEachern argues, the regime, emerging from the crises of the 1990s, rules differently today than it did under Kim's father, Kim Il Sung. The son is less powerful and pits institutions against one another in a strategy of divide and rule. His leadership is fundamentally different: it is "post-totalitarian." Authority may be centralized, but power remains diffuse. McEachern maps this process in great detail, supplying vital perspective on North Korea's reactive policy choices, which continue to bewilder the West.

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