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North Korea in the 21st Century: An Interpretative Guide

North Korea is not easily accessible, but boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the Korean Peninsula, and arguably in East Asia. Travel to and in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is tightly controlled, while political, economic, social and cultural life is played out in terms of a not readily understood philosophy, known as juche. The country maintains a watchful and often defiant relationship with the rest of the world and insists on following its own standards and norms at all times. Nonetheless, North Korea is slowly adjusting to the great changes that have taken place since the collapse of the Soviet Union. One important expression of this softening of attitudes is its willingness to allow a greater number of foreigners to enter and live in the country. In the belief that it is better to try to understand than to routinely condemn, the authors have attempted to interpret what they observed around them during their almost two-year stay in the DPRK setting up the first British Embassy in Pyongyang (the story of which is to be found in Part III of this book). The country’s reputation as a difficult partner in world affairs could not be ignored, but for them that was never the whole story. Here was a society operating certainly along very different lines, but which in its essentials was recognizably Korean. The contents cover North Korean politics, the economy, the role of history, society, cultural values, and visiting and living in the DPRK

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