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Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Iyanatul Islam
Chapter 16: North Korea
Frank Ruediger Short political history Politics, in particular the nationalist ideology, has been a dominant factor in North Korea’s economic transformation. Thus, a brief review of the most formative historical experiences of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) is in order before addressing various aspects of the North Korean economy. In 1876, the Japanese forced the Korean Kingdom of Chosòn (Joseon; founded in 1392) to open itself to the West with the treaty of Kanghwa. The leadership, paralysed by factional strife and a tradition of self-isolation and close cooperation with China, could not agree on a common reform policy. Lacking economic and military strength, Korea lost its independence and became a colony of Japan in 1910, which until the present time remains a deﬁning experience for all Koreans. The country was liberated when the Japanese surrendered on 15 August 1945, but only to be divided roughly along the 38th parallel according to an agreement between the Great Powers who wanted to establish a trusteeship over the peninsula. The Cold War made such a joint eﬀort impossible. The Soviet Union and the United States each supported their own political followers on both sides of the demarcation line, and tensions were aggravated. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was founded on 9 September 1948, three weeks after the Republic of Korea (South Korea) was created. In the same year, the Soviet Union and the United States both withdrew their troops from the peninsula. The Korean...
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