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국제관계연구소
Vol. 38-3 (December 2023) Is North Korea a Failed State? (Jiyoung Kim)

Abstract

Is North Korea a failed state? Through a case study of North Korea, this study tackles the meaning of defining a state as “failed” and highlights the theoretical and conceptual limitations of the failed state approach. This study presents a thorough literature review on the subject and aims to bridge a theoretical gap between academic discussions of failed states in the field of international development and the study of North Korea. By doing so, this study highlights the conceptual limitations of viewing North Korea as a failed state and suggests that that misconception has been one of the reasons for the failure to solve various puzzles about the country. In particular, this study underlines the conceptual problems and the Western-dominant perspective in defining North Korea as a failed state for having weak political legitimacy and a lack of in-depth understanding of contextual/historical factors and recent political-economic changes that have affected state-society relations in North Korea.

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