North Korea

State of Paranoia

Paul French

North Korea

Paul French

Distributed for Zed Books

480 pages | 5 x 9 | © 2015
Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9781783605736 Published August 2015 For sale in North and South America only
Secretive, mysterious, and almost certainly dangerous, North Korea is an object of endless fascination—and worry—for the rest of the world. The world’s most inaccessible nuclear power, it retains Gulag-style prison camps, completely blocks Internet access, and forbids citizens to talk to foreigners without approval—which makes the occasional report from a smart, dogged, connected analyst all the more valuable.

North Korea: State of Paranoia is just such a report. Drawing on an impressive range of insider sources and previously unseen archival material, Paul French examines the nation and its ruling regime in forensic detail. He offers a close analysis of the history and politics of North Korea; Pyongyang’s complex relations with South Korea, Japan, China, and the United States; and the troubling implications of Kim Jong-Un’s increasingly belligerent leadership in the years since his father, Kim Jong-il, died.

Straightforward and unsensationalistic, North Korea nonetheless paints a picture of a frightening unstable country, one whose sudden collapse could have globally dangerous consequences.
Foreword: The Myth and the Reality of the State of Paranoia

Introduction: the paranoid peninsula

Part I - The Juche nation: beloved leaders, brilliant thoughts, power cuts and empty shelves
1. A normal day in Pyongyang
2. The Juche state: political theory in North Korea
3. The revolutionary dynasty: leadership in North Korea

Part II - The economics of North Korea: Chollima, speed battles, collapse and famine
4. Economics Pyongyang style: command and control
5. The worst of times: food, famine and the arduous march
6. The start of a sort of reform: change and regime survival
7. The reality of reform: a case study of Sinuiju

Part III - Diplomacy and military: foreign relations, nuclear crisis and self-defence
8. Don't poke the snake: US-DPRK relations
9. Nuclear ambitions revealed: bluster, brinkmanship or battle?
10. 'Military First' emerges

Part IV - Change, collapse and reunification
11. One Korea: the dream of reunification
12. Kim3: the dynasty continues
13. How will the story end?

Conclusion: still the world's most dangerous tripwire
Review Quotes
Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea
“Paul French writes with wit, eloquence, and rare clarity about the complicated history of North Korea.”
Kerry Brown, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney
“North Korea's ability to worry and shock remains perhaps the only predictable aspect of the country's behavior. Paul French's no-nonsense approach to understanding the country's history, political system, ideology, and what remains of its decimated economy is one of the best introductions to a country that does all it can to resist outside inspection and comprehension. This is the most accessible starting point for anyone wanting to understand the hermit kingdom.”
Louisa Lim, Beijing correspondent, NPR
“This clear-eyed overview to North Korea’s modern history is packed full of fascinating detail. French ably outlines the hermit kingdom’s ideology, economic system, and haphazard efforts at reform, while simultaneously revealing why pickpockets target Kim Il-sung badges, what the North Korean cabinet’s position is on lice, and why smoking can be a small act of resistance.”
Jonathan Steele | Guardian
“An admirably clear and calm survey of one of the hardest countries in the world to report on.”
Wall Street Journal
“Highly readable. . . . A solid overview of the country’s modern history and how it became a failed state. . . . Admirably clear and refreshingly devoid of academic gobbledygook.”
Daily Telegraph
“Fascinating. . . . Highly readable.”
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