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Kong, Tat Yan (2020) 'The Advance of Marketization in North Korea: Between political rigidity and economic flexibility.' Modern Asian Studies, 54 (3). pp. 830-867.

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North Korea is a unique regime that has not followed the ‘mono transition’ path (economic reform under modified one-party rule) of other surviving communist regimes (China, Vietnam, Cuba) in the post-Cold War era. Debates over North Korea’s unique features (reluctance in economic reform, absence of political modification, international troublemaking) have generated two contending interpretations. The mainstream interpretation attributes North Korea’s uniqueness to its regime’s highly rigid political system (‘monolithic leadership system’). For the alternative interpretation, structural pressures and political calculus have driven the monolithic regime towards economic reform (‘marketization from above’), making it more convergent with the ‘mono transition’ regimes, at least in the economic aspect. In support of the latter interpretation, this article will delve further into three contentious issues that represent the most common doubts about the advance of marketization in North Korea. First, how can the regime reconcile marketization with the interests of its ‘core constituencies’? Second, since ‘crony socialism’ exists, how does it influence distribution and productive activity? Third, how does marketization advance in view of the persistence of monolithic rule? In so doing, it will show how the sources of economic reform (structural factors and political calculus) have enabled the marketization constraints to be overcome.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 0026749X
Copyright Statement: © Cambridge University Press 2019. This is the accepted manuscript of an article published by Cambridge University Press in Modern Asian Studies:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2018 12:13
Related URLs: ... n-asian-studies (Publisher URL)
Funders: Other

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