Kim Jong-il once declared he would transform North Korea into a “great and powerful country” by 2012, apparently believing that nuclear weapons would compel the international community to engage on his terms. With no such prospect in sight and Kim himself now in failing health, his regime faces a multitude of intractable problems. Kim has apparently chosen his twenty-something third son as his successor, but will North Koreans accept this inexperienced young man as their leader, and will he embrace new thinking to solve the country’s problems? Why do North Korean leaders resist reform of an economic system that impoverishes the people? Can a country so dependent on outside help continue to defy the international community?
In Troubled Transition, leading international experts examine these dilemmas, offering new insights into how a troubled North Korea may evolve in light of the ways other command economies and totalitarian states—from the Soviet Union and East Germany to Vietnam and China—have transitioned.