North Korea under Kim Chong-il

Power, Politics, and Prospects for Change

by Ken E. Gause


North Korea is often in the news, regarded by many as a threat to the Asian region and, by extension, to the rest of the world. What underlies current policies and decision-making in the Hermit Kingdom? Perhaps more important, what is the near future likely to bring?

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August 2011


Pages 241
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/International and Transnational Security
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This much-needed study draws on fresh material and firsthand observation to provide an understanding of North Korea as it exists today.

North Korea under Kim Chong-il: Power, Politics, and Prospects for Change delves deeply into what we know—and what we think we know—about the current North Korean system. This incisive book probes the dynamics that inform the nation's domestic and foreign policies, examining key leadership institutions and personalities, as well as prospects for the next regime.

In outlining the major events behind Kim Chong-il's assumption of power, Ken E. Gause illuminates the environment that shaped Chong-il's worldview and his concept of the regime and his role in it. The book focuses on regime politics since 1994. Among other critical topics, the book examines the evolution of North Korean decision-making with regard to its internal and external affairs and how both are intermingled. The prospects for a third hereditary succession and the prospective stability of the next regime are also considered.


  • Includes original interviews conducted in Asia by the author
  • Offers material drawn from a wide variety of sources, including the rich literature and analysis by Korean, Japanese, and Chinese scholars/analysts, much of which has not been translated into English
  • Provides insights into the tradecraft and best practices of the Pyongyang watching community


  • Shares insights drawn from the extensive contacts the author has in the Pyongyang-watching community, including many high-level North Korean defectors
  • Examines how North Korea interacts with the outside world and why the regime makes the decisions it does
  • Considers the near-term and long-term prospects for stability on the Korean Peninsula
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Written by subject experts and well-known researchers, the books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, first responders, economists, journalists, civil servants, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth reflections, thorough analysis, and international perspectives that are unavailable in mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students and researchers as well as anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

Ken E. Gause is director of the Foreign Leadership Studies Program at CNA, a nonprofit research organization in Alexandria, VA. He is CNA's resident expert on foreign leadership issues, having studied a variety of regimes dating back to the early 1980s with his work on the Soviet Union for the U.S. government. Gause has published numerous articles on leadership structures, has developed models for examining authoritarian leaderships, and has done extensive research on the Stalinist regime and its influence on the leadership architectures of similar regimes, such as North Korea and Iraq. He has done a number of studies on opaque regimes for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. intelligence community.

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