Kim Jong Il and North Korea: The Leader and the System

  • March 01, 2006
  • Dr Andrew Scobell

In the first decade of the 21st century, few national security challenges facing the United States is as vexing as that posed by North Korea. It is a paradox because it appears to be a very powerful state—possessing the world's fourth largest armed forces, a sizeable arsenal of ballistic missiles, and a worrying nuclear program—but it is also an economic basket case in terms of agricultural output, industrial production, and foreign trade exports. Virtually every aspect of the Pyongyang regime is mysterious and puzzling. In short, North Korea is difficult for Americans to understand and analyze, beginning with confusion about what kind of political system North Korea has and what kind of man leads it. The author explores Pyongyang's political dynamics and seeks to shed light on the political system of North Korea and its leader.