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External Isolation and Stability of North Korean autocratic regime (a case-study)

Anna Efimova
National Research University, Higher School of Economics – HSE
Anna Efimova
National Research University, Higher School of Economics – HSE
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Abstract

The paper attempts at contributing to refining current status and prospects of North Korean regime’s stability with primary focus on external factors. External isolation of the DPRK, non-transparency of its authoritarian politic regime matches the practical long-term goal of North Korea, which is the maintenance of the existing status-quo and regime stability, reproducing of the system fundamental parameters that guarantee its preservation. Sustaining functional capacity of the existing regime in the DPRK in the situation of external isolation turns out to be beneficial for its international counteragents. In case of state failure and the emergence of a military conflict, regional neighboring states will inevitably be drawn in. This model is quite vibrant in case of North Korea, with the destabilization of negotiations on nuclear issues at background. Potential possibility of the North Korean collapse is currently seen as a threat to regional security. One of the core assumptions of the paper is that North Korea lacks significant economic and political leverages and resources, and thus, can not project an adequate influence on the unsatisfactory external conditions. The state is likely to initiate a local conflict (with the direct or indirect involvement of great powers) in order to attract international attention, which may catalyze foreign investment. The initiated conflict helps to create a “negative publicity” by drawing a formally negative image of a country at war, which in future may cause the positive change of attitude of the great powers. Subsequently, the paper concludes that the phenomenon of external isolation of North Korea is at large explained by the need to sustain the existence of the incumbent political regime under conditions of deep economic crisis and resentment on behalf of the international community.