Synopses & Reviews
Secretive, mysterious, and almost certainly dangerous, North Korea is an object of endless fascination—and worry—for the rest of the world. The world’s most inaccessible nuclear power, it retains Gulag-style prison camps, completely blocks Internet access, and forbids citizens to talk to foreigners without approval—which makes the occasional report from a smart, dogged, connected analyst all the more valuable.
North Korea: State of Paranoia is just such a report. Drawing on an impressive range of insider sources and previously unseen archival material, Paul French examines the nation and its ruling regime in forensic detail. He offers a close analysis of the history and politics of North Korea; Pyongyang’s complex relations with South Korea, Japan, China, and the United States; and the troubling implications of Kim Jong-Un’s increasingly belligerent leadership in the years since his father, Kim Jong-il, died.
Straightforward and unsensationalistic, North Korea nonetheless paints a picture of a frightening unstable country, one whose sudden collapse could have globally dangerous consequences.
"Paul French writes with wit, eloquence and rare clarity about the complicated history of North Korea." - Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea
"North Korea's ability to worry and shock remains perhaps the only predictable aspect of the country's behaviour. Paul French's no-nonsense approach to understanding the country's history, political system, ideology and what remains of its decimated economy is one of the best introductions to a country that does all it can to resist outside inspection and comprehension. This is the most accessible starting point for anyone wanting to understand the hermit kingdom." - Kerry Brown, Professor and Director, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney, Australia
"This clear-eyed overview to North Korea's modern history is packed full of fascinating detail. French ably outlines the hermit kingdom's ideology, economic system and haphazard efforts at reform, while simultaneously revealing why pickpockets target Kim Il-sung badges, what the North Korean cabinet's position is on lice and why smoking can be a small act of resistance." - Louisa Lim, Beijing correspondent, NPR
“Paul French writes with wit, eloquence, and rare clarity about the complicated history of North Korea.”
“North Korea's ability to worry and shock remains perhaps the only predictable aspect of the country's behavior. Paul French's no-nonsense approach to understanding the country's history, political system, ideology, and what remains of its decimated economy is one of the best introductions to a country that does all it can to resist outside inspection and comprehension. This is the most accessible starting point for anyone wanting to understand the hermit kingdom.”
“This clear-eyed overview to North Korea’s modern history is packed full of fascinating detail. French ably outlines the hermit kingdom’s ideology, economic system, and haphazard efforts at reform, while simultaneously revealing why pickpockets target Kim Il-sung badges, what the North Korean cabinet’s position is on lice, and why smoking can be a small act of resistance.”
North Korea is a country that continues to make headlines—arousing curiosity and fear in equal measure. The worlds most secretive nuclear power, it is a nation that still has Gulag-style prison camps, no internet, and bans its people from talking to foreigners without official approval. In this remarkable and eye-opening book, bestselling author Paul French takes the reader inside the worlds most secretive country. He examines the history and politics of North Korea, Pyongyangs complex relations with South Korea, Japan, and America. As China begins to tire of its unruly ally, what are the implications of Kim Jong-uns increasingly belligerent leadership following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il? As an already unstable North Korea grows ever more unpredictable, antagonizing enemies and allies alike, North Korea: State of Paranoia, delivers a provocative and frightening account of a potentially explosive nuclear tripwire.
About the Author
Paul French, born in London and educated there and in Glasgow, has lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. He is a widely published analyst and commentator on Asia, Asian politics and current affairs. Paul was awarded the 2013 Edgar for best fact crime for his international bestseller Midnight in Peking. He is currently based in Shanghai, China.
Table of Contents
Foreword: The Myth and the Reality of the State of Paranoia
Introduction: the paranoid peninsula
Part I - The Juche nation: beloved leaders, brilliant thoughts, power cuts and empty shelves
1. A normal day in Pyongyang
2. The Juche state: political theory in North Korea
3. The revolutionary dynasty: leadership in North Korea
Part II - The economics of North Korea: Chollima, speed battles, collapse and famine
4. Economics Pyongyang style: command and control
5. The worst of times: food, famine and the arduous march
6. The start of a sort of reform: change and regime survival
7. The reality of reform: a case study of Sinuiju
Part III - Diplomacy and military: foreign relations, nuclear crisis and self-defence
8. Don't poke the snake: US-DPRK relations
9. Nuclear ambitions revealed: bluster, brinkmanship or battle?
10. 'Military First' emerges
Part IV - Change, collapse and reunification
11. One Korea: the dream of reunification
12. Kim3: the dynasty continues
13. How will the story end?
Conclusion: still the world's most dangerous tripwire