Introduction: Aspects of the Transition and Theoretical Considerations

  • Tat Yan Kong
  • Dae Hwan Kim
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


The consolidation of power by Kim Jong Il that is unfolding points to the durability of the North Korean regime in the face of the trends that have unravelled the communist world since 1989. Yet the image of a fossilised North Korea can be more apparent than real. Just before his death, Kim Il Sung was about to begin negotiations with the US over the nuclear issue and the often proposed leadership summit with the South also looked as if it would materialise.1 A start to economic reform, albeit a highly tentative one, had also been made. There is no indication that the new Pyongyang leadership seeks a reverse course. These developments suggest that North Korea has recognised the seriousness of her situation, a predicament brought on by an outdated centrally planned economy and the loss of Russian diplomatic and economic support. Thus the argument can be made that North Korea is in a state of transition.


Korean Peninsula Economic Reform Democratic Liberal Party Korean Economy Northeast Asian Region 
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  1. 5.
    Guillermo O’Donnell et al. (eds), Transitions from Authoritarianism (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1986) is the seminal work of this type.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Jung-en Woo, Race to the Swift: State and Finance in Korean Industrialization (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991) Ch. 7.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    On the Korean War, see Bruce Cumings, Origins of the Korean War. Volume 1 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981); Volume 2 (1991).Google Scholar
  4. The most comprehensive works on Korean development are the multi-volume Harvard-KDI series, Studies in the Modernization of the Republic of Korea published in the early 1980s, and Alice Amsden, Asia’s Next Giant: South Korea and Late-Industrialization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  5. Radical perspectives are considered by: Kyong-Dong Kim (ed.), Dependency Issues in Korean Development (Seoul: Seoul National University Press, 1987);Google Scholar
  6. Hyun-chae Park et. al., The Korean Economy (Seoul: Kachi, 1989) [in Korean]; andGoogle Scholar
  7. Sung-Shim Han, Dae Hwan Kim et al., The Recognition and Challenge of the Korean Economy (Seoul: Eulyoo Publishing Co., 1991) [in Korean].Google Scholar

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© Dae Hwan Kim and Tat Yan Kong 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tat Yan Kong
  • Dae Hwan Kim

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