A Socioeconomic History of North Korea


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About the Book

Even as its rise as a nuclear power unfolds on the nightly news, North Korea remains arguably the most mysterious country in the world. A virtual blackout of statistical information coming from the reclusive regime has shrouded the day-to-day lives of its inhabitants in secrecy. This groundbreaking study—which relies on rare U.N.–assisted household data and carefully scrutinized propaganda materials—offers the first comprehensive examination of the social and economic history of North Korea from its founding in 1948 to the present day. Included are a chronicle of the political formation of the two Koreas, an exploration of the social aspects of life in North Korea, a discussion of the country’s economic structure and development, and cutting-edge anthropometric analysis that reveals how life in seclusion has affected the physical development of North Koreans. A concluding socioeconomic forecast predicts what lies ahead for the “hermit kingdom.” Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Daniel Schwekendiek holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Tuebingen in Germany and has been a scholar at the University of Oxford, Seoul National University, and the University of California at Berkeley. He has published widely on the histories of the two Koreas and their diasporas.

Bibliographic Details

Daniel Schwekendiek
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 184
Bibliographic Info: 23 figures, 9 maps, 25 tables, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6344-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8541-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Preface     1
Abbreviations      3

1. Background
1.1 Introduction      5
1.2 Terra incognita      10
1.3 Reliability of data      17
1.4 Historical setting      22
1.5 Colonialism and rise of socialism      26
1.6 Political formation      29
1.7 Ideological foundation      31

2. Social Perspectives
2.1 Social status      38
2.2 Family and friends      46
2.3 Gender      50
2.4 Food and necessities      53
2.5 Public health      61
2.6 Education      68
2.7 Media and mobility      74
2.8 National security      84

3. Anthropometric Perspectives
3.1 Perception      91
3.2 Concept      93
3.3 Sources      101
3.4 Evidence      108

4. Economic Perspectives
4.1 Structure      115
4.2 Central planning      121
4.3 Classical sectors      131
4.4 Performance      136
4.5 Questionable activities      141
4.6 Structural deficits      145
4.7 Marketization      151

5. Conclusion
5.1 Summary      157
5.2 Outlook      159

Notes      163
Bibliography      165
Index      171

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “recommended”—Midwest Book Review
  • “accessible…encompasses 1948 to the present”—Reference & Research Book News