Kim Jong Il and North Korea: The Leader and the System   [open pdf - 499KB]

"Much hyperbole surrounds the political regime in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea). Many analysts argue that North Korea is a unique political system. What kind of regime is the DPRK, and what kind of leader does it have? A variety of labels are given to the North Korean regime. These include likening the regime to an organized crime family and to a corporatist organism. There are certainly merits to each of these approaches, but each has its limitations...But the DPRK is more than a crime family-it possesses a massive conventional military force as well as significant strategic forces. Moreover, the regime continues to brainwash, imprison, or starve North Koreans, inflicting untold misery and death on its people. Corporatism, meanwhile, may provide insights into certain aspects of the system, but its utility is limited by the confusion that surrounds understanding of this concept. Certainly North Korea is distinct politically, but it also has significant commonalities with various regime types and authority structures. Pyongyang is a highly centralized and militarized bureaucratic regime organized around an all-powerful leader. This monograph examines the leader and the system, and identifies the regime type. The author contends that the North Korean political system is best conceived as a totalitarian regime that, although weakened, remains remarkably resilient. After analyzing the key elements of totalitarianism, he argues that the system's greatest test will probably come after the death of Kim Jong Il."

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Strategic Studies Institute: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/
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