Passport

Covering Kim Jong Il

It’s notoriously difficult to get a sense of what’s going on in North Korea — after all, the world didn’t even learn of Kim Jong Il’s death until two days after it occurred. But Foreign Policy has published some amazing articles on the Hermit Kingdom. Here’s a small selection: Pyongyang Spring: As the Arab Spring ...

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

It’s notoriously difficult to get a sense of what’s going on in North Korea — after all, the world didn’t even learn of Kim Jong Il’s death until two days after it occurred. But Foreign Policy has published some amazing articles on the Hermit Kingdom. Here’s a small selection:

Pyongyang Spring: As the Arab Spring swept across the Middle East, could Kim Jong Il be the next dictator to fall? Don’t bet on it, wrote Sebastian Strangio — the North Korean regime employs methods of repression that could even make Arab autocrats blush.

The Land of No Smiles: Tomas von Houtrye shot his magnificent photo essay, which was nominated for a National Magazine award, after entering North Korea posing as a businessman. His images capture the hardship of everyday life in the Hermit Kingdom.

The Secret History of Kim Jong Il: A North Korean professor who first met Kim in 1959, as a shy student struggling to learn Russian, tracks his evolution into an eccentric dictator. In the process, he describes his own gradual disillusionment with a regime that he once served.

The Rise of Kim Jong Un: Ken Gause’s article was one of the first to describe the succession scenario that would likely play out following Kim Jong-Il’s death. "[F]or those of us who read the tea leaves in Pyongyang for a living, the growing focus on the third son as the successor appears to be reaching a critical mass," he wrote presciently.

North Korea’s Race Problem: Literary critic B.R. Myers spent eight years reading the propaganda that Kim Jong Il used to justify his rule. What he found was not communist agitprop, but pure ethnic chauvinism. "Up close, North Korea is not Stalinist," he wrote. "It’s simply racist."

Can North Korea Change?: This article, by Peter Beck, addresses whether North Korea’s leaders could ever be attracted by the "China model" — that is, economic reform coupled with continued authoritarian rule. Beck argues that Pyongyang may have no choice but to embark on a tentative liberalization, or risk an economic collapse that would threaten the elites’ hold on power.

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola