North Korea

North Korea : The Struggle Against American Power

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George W. Bush's infamous remark about the 'Axis of Evil' brought North Korea dramatically back into the international spotlight. During the late 1990s relations between North Korea and the US and its allies were on the mend. However, the election of George W. Bush resulted in renewed crisis. The nuclear accord between the two countries was torn up, dashing North Korean hopes for establishing normal diplomatic and economic relations. Though malnutrition has eased and the economy is growing, the outlook is bleak. This book cuts through the propaganda to unearth the complex and contradictory realities of this much-demonised country and its geopolitical context. The North is not a 'workers' paradise' but, like Iraq, neither is it a threat to its neighbours and the region in the way usually portrayed. Tim Beal reveals a country overburdened by military spending that sees itself under constant threat. However, he also shows that North Korea is pragmatic about negotiating with the United States. Attempts at economic reform and export expansion are shackled by US and Japanese hostility.
Exploring a broad range of subjects including the historical and political framework of North Korea, the development of the nuclear crisis, human rights issues, drug trading, as well as its shifting relationship with South Korea, this is an ideal book for anyone who wants a thorough introduction to the daunting challenges faced by this country.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 137.2 x 218.4 x 30.5mm | 612.36g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 4 maps, 3 figures
  • 0745320147
  • 9780745320144

About Tim Beal

Tim Beal has researched and taught widely on Asian politics and business and is currently focused on North Korea. He has recently retired from the School of Marketing and International Business at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. He is the author of North Korea: The Struggle Against American Power (Pluto, 2005).
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Table of contents

Introduction Part I: Fulcrum of geography, anvil of history: DPRK in historical perspective Introduction to Part I Chapter one: The roots of modern Korea: from Tangun to Liberation Chapter two: Years of struggle, years of hope: Korean War to first nuclear crisis Chapter three: Creation of the Agreed Framework and the flowering of detente Chapter four: Crisis reignited: economic reform, regional accord, Washington discord Part II: The pillars of confrontation Introduction to Part II Chapter five: The Human Rights record: complexities, causes, solutions Chapter six: Drugs and Generals Chapter seven: The Nuclear Confrontation Chapter eight: On the Precipice: Options, positions and dangers at the start of the second Bush administration Appendices Appendix one: Economic statistics Appendix two: Military statistics Appendix three: Documentary sources Appendix four: A timeline of nuclear and missile issues and activities Notes Bibliography Index
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Review quote

Timely, important, and provocative. A useful corrective to the stereotypes and misinformation that pervade 'conventional wisdom' about North Korea. -- Professor Charles Armstrong, Director, The Center for Korean Research, Columbia University. Author of The North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950 As with other official enemies of the United States, there has been a steady campaign of demonization against North Korea by US officials that has all too eagerly been lapped up by the US media, obscuring the real issues of US North Korean disputes and peaceful means of getting beyond them. In this corrective, Beal (Victoria U. of Wellington, New Zealand) provides a short history of Korea and US - Korean relations - up to the genesis of the current nuclear impasse sparked by the George W. Bush administration - in a treatment is significantly more even handed than the vast majority of what Americans read or her. He then turns to key themes and topics, including human rights and international aid, charges of involvement with illegal drugs trafficking and terrorism, and, finally, the nuclear issue. The work concludes with recommendations for US policy, suggesting that good faith negotiations are likely to be successful because North Korea desperately hopes to normalize relations and can't pose much of a threat to the United States in the first place. -- Reference & Research Book News, May 2006 Beal takes aim at historians in the first part; in part two he challenges sloppy journalists, conservative activists with hidden agendas, and politicians eager to score points. On the issue of human rights, Beal does an excellent job tracking down the 2004 claim that North Korea practices chemical warfare on political prisoners. -- John Feffer, Korean Quarterly North Korea is both one of the last two communist countries (the other being Cuba) and a member of George Bush's Axis of Evil. Tim Beal's book is both a study of how North Korea survived the fall of soviet communism and a detailed study of the nuclear confrontation with America. Beal, a New Zealand business studies lecturer writes a blow by blow account of the nuclear negotiations over the last ten years. It is a contemporay study and the history of the first 50 years development of the state. The purpose of the book appears to be to demonstrate that North Korea is not a threat to the region and that its isolation and dependence on military spending, with the consequential shortage in material goods is in fact a consequence of American and Japanese hostility, both in terms of military threat and economic sanctions. -- Duncan Bowie, Chartist The subtitles of these books reveal the sharply differing points of departure on North Korea for writers Tim Beal and Paul French. For Beal, North Korea is a product as much of American ill will as it is of its own internal ideology. Beal takes on the despairingly bad press it gets by challenging Western-accepted wisdom across the board. North Korea may spend the highest level of gross domestic product in the world on its military, but that's still less than 0.4 percent of the spending by the U.S.-Japan-South Korea axis combined. With respect to arms sales, North Korea is outsold every year by those famous military powers Australia, Canada and Sweden; it sells 250 times less military hardware than the United States. As for its nuclear-weapons program, first of all, whether one really exists is doubtful. Charles Kartman, the former head of the U.S.-led Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO), is quoted as saying "the number of proven weapons is zero." Second, if it is developing one, it was forced to do so by the U.S. and South Korea, primarily the threat of American use of such weapons. Third, nuclear weapons are the cheap option that could enable North Korea to release hundreds of thousands of conscripts into civilian life to kick-start its failing economy. For Beal, the current nuclear crisis was deliberately engineered by the Bush administration to enable it to renege on Clinton's 1994 Framework Agreement to use KEDO to build two light-water reactors in exchange for North Korea's freezing and dismantling graphite-moderated reactors capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium. Now the U.S. wants it all for free, a freeze without the benefits of "blackmail" with regime change to follow, if North Korea is foolish enough to disarm. Yet from time to time, Beal ventures an opinion too far. Not everyone with a persecution complex is in error; nor are all the stories of North Korean ill-doing. Few would agree, for example, that the assassination attempt on South Korea's President Park Chung Hee was led by Southern partisans rather than by North Korean commandos. That would include Park Geun Hye, the late president's daughter who lost her mother in the attack and who, as leader of the Conservative opposition Grand National Party, is still prepared to engage in a constructive dialogue with the North's leadership. -- The Japan Times
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