Locked in antagonistic rivalry with neighbouring powers, North Korea has staked its future on the development of nuclear weapons, to the outrage of the international community. The Kim family's dominance of the DPRK since 1948 has confounded its critics and frustrated its allies in equal measure. Despite its dependence on economic aid from the former USSR and China, and later the USA, it pursues its nuclear ambitions at all costs. The regime has reneged on its nuclear and non-proliferation commitments, apparently only returning to the table to buy time to carry on building and testing weapons technologies.
But what motivates Pyongyang to disregard UN censure and circumvent its sanctions, selling weapons and technology to fund its nuclear programme? Why does it remain one of the world's most militaristic societies, through years of economic penury and hardship? And after two nuclear tests and repeated incidents between the forces of the ROK and the DPRK, what are the prospects for peace and stability on the peninsula? In this account of the regime, the Kims' deep investment in nationalism is analysed in the context of the great political upheavals of the Cold War, the collapse of the USSR and the rise of China. This Adelphi looks at the events and ideas that shaped North Korean identity, as well as the factors influencing the great powers' reactions.‘
'Many experts have tried to explain North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and to offer solutions to convince Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program. In this extraordinary, indispensable book Jonathan Pollack tackles these difficult issues and provides more complete answers than anyone else.'
Han Sung-joo, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea
'This is a profoundly important book. No one else has managed to do what Pollack has done. This sends a strong wake-up call to anyone still inclined to view Pyongyang’s nuclear quest as defensive or reactive. He has written a superb and essential guide to one of the greatest threats America and its Northeast Asian allies face today.'
Evans Revere, Diplomat in Residence, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, and Former Principal Deputy Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
'Jonathan Pollack has written the single best analysis of the North Korean nuclear issue. He masterfully captures the complex history, politics and personalities that make this one of the world’s most intractable foreign policy challenges.'
Mitchell Reiss, President, Washington College and Former Director of Policy Planning, US State Department