A North Korean Spring?

Author
Nicholas D. Anderson, Victor D. Cha
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal
The Washington Quarterly
Volume
35
Issue Number
1
Publication Date
Winter 2012
Institution
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Abstract
Is revolution similar to the Arab Spring possible in North Korea? The answer from most scholars and intelligence analysts has been “no”—that the Pyongyang regime's stability in the aftermath of the events in the Middle East and North Africa is an “old question” that was answered in the 1990s when the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea) faced the most critical test of its life, and survived. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the drastic cuts in patron aid from China, and the onset of famine that killed hundreds of thousands all constituted the ultimate test of DPRK stability, and the regime staggered on through it all. Thus, the assumption is that the Arab Spring has little relevance to the DPRK. The scholarly literature tends to support this assessment. Scholars like Georgetown University's Daniel Byman have argued that Kim Jong-il has effectively “coup-proofed” himself through an elaborate system of patronage, bribery, and draconian rule.
Topic
International Relations, Arab Spring
Political Geography
Asia, North Korea, Asia-Pacific