POL215Y1 Chapter Notes -Kim Il-Sung, North Korea, Kim Jong-Il

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18 Nov 2011
Ernie Tam
The Sources of Regime Stability in North Korea; Insights from
Democratization Theory
By: Yun-Jo Cho
Main Ideas
There are three levels of analysis used to analyze NK: 1) leadership 2)
societal 3) external dimensions
First level: leadership
oKim Jon Il’s regime has been based on a leader cult movement.
Military loyalty is key in establishing his influence and continued
regime rule.
Second level: societal
oPoor socio economic conditions as well as the state’s political
surveillance have made the regime stronger.
oObstruction in the flow of information has given way to
propaganda to influence citizens.
oTraditional Confucian cultural base and ideological indoctrination
in the Juche ideology have influenced NK’s approval of Kim.
Third Level: External dimensions
oThe geostrategic calculations of neighboring countries like South
Korea and China have helped to support the regime
The DPRK as an anomaly case
First Factor: In democratization theory, the DPRK should have
collapsed by now. First there was an economic crisis in the 1990s that
reduced the food supply in half for North Koreans.
o1) Poor economic performance raises probability of regime
collapse (Soviet Union collapsing marked a blow to DPRK’s aid
Possibility of mobilization of support against the regime
resulting from the lack of supplies
Economic disparity causes the elite members of the party
to rebel against one another. Possibility in new leadership.
Second Factor: DPRK’s collapse is the death of personality cult, Kim Il
oHe made the DPRK highly personalistic and his death would have
resulted in a major domestic political crisis.
oIn the case of personalistic authoritarian regimes, autocrat
heavily relies on networks of personal patronage for political
capital. The death of such a figure might lead to a political
Accounting for the Anomaly
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