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North Korea: State of Paranoia

Publisher: , 2014
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

North Korea continues to make headlines, arousing curiosity and fear in equal measure. The world’s most secretive nuclear power, it still has Gulag-style prison camps, allows no access to the Internet and bans its people from talking to foreigners without official approval. In this remarkable and eye-opening book, internationally best-selling author Paul French examines in forensic detail the history and politics of North Korea, Pyongyang’s complex relations with South Korea, Japan, China and America, and the implications of Kim Jong-un’s increasingly belligerent leadership following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.

As an already unstable North Korea grows ever more unpredictable, antagonizing enemies and allies alike, North Korea: State of Paranoia delivers a provocative and frightening account of a potentially explosive nuclear tripwire.


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

LKL says:

This title is a refreshed version of North Korea – the paranoid peninsula (Zed Books, 2005), which we enjoyed. At the time, we wrote:

“Highly readable and wide-ranging book on North Korea. Describes clearly some of the eccentricities of the regime, such as the Sinuiju economic zone, and describes clearly for the benefit of non-economists how it is that a rigid centrally-planned economy is doomed to fail.”

Reviews of this new edition by David Pilling in the FT | Jonathan Steele in the Guardian

LKL rating: score-2score-2score-2score-2score-0

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.