Change in North Korea

SmithKevin Gray of the Department of International Relations in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex has a new review available of Hazel Smith’s North Korea: Markets and Military Rule (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1151543), published by Cambridge University Press.

In this review, Gray states that: “Smith has produced a remarkable piece of scholarship that convincingly challenges many of the prevalent clichéd and outdated understandings of North Korea.”

The book’s basic argument “is that while the country may appear from the outside to be an anachronistic Stalinist throwback to the darkest days of the Cold War, such a view belies the fact that significant changes have taken place in North Korean state and society since the devastating economic collapse and famine of the 1990s.” Much of this change is driven by “marketisation.”

While the review notes some shortcomings in the analysis, Gray concludes that:

the contributions of the Smith’s book are significant. The book is a clear testament to the potential of factual and objective analysis of the current changes underway in North Korea. As such, it is an extremely valuable addition to the literature on North Korea and is likely to be a key reference for years to come.


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