Handbook on the Northeast and Southeast Asian Economies
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Handbook on the Northeast and Southeast Asian Economies

Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Iyanatul Islam

This original Handbook on the Northeast and Southeast Asian Economies provides a broad overview of economic and social developments in the countries covered (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, North Korea, The Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Viet Nam). The analytical narratives on the economic transformation of these economies draw on existing literature, and highlight the interactions of socio-political factors. They examine the role of economic policies and the influence exerted by historical and political circumstances.
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Chapter 16: North Korea

Frank Ruediger


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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