Economic performance and North Korean regime legitimacy
Moore, Patrick J.
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This thesis examines the sources of legitimacy for the North Korean regime in an effort to explain what role, if any, economic performance has played in keeping the Kim family in power. This thesis provides a historical look at the development of the North Korean regime from the beginning under Kim Il-sung to the current generation of rule under Kim Jong-un. The core argument of the thesis is broken into two major time periods, with the economic downturn of the early 1990s serving as the dividing point. Furthermore, comparisons with South Korea under Park Chung-hee and reformist China under Deng Xiaoping will be made to offer counter-examples of authoritarian regimes that placed a priority on economic growth. The goal of this thesis is to establish the basis for North Korean regime legitimacy as a way to further understand both how the leadership continues to remain in power despite grave economic failure and to shed light on possible future developments as a result of the current situation. In better understanding the sources of legitimacy in North Korea, the international community can be better prepared for the way ahead.
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