North Korea under Kim Chong-il
Power, Politics, and Prospects for Change
by Ken E. Gause
August 2011, 241pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38175-1
$54, £42, 47€, A74
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38176-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

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?

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
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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