Witness to Transformation

Witness to Transformation : Refugee Insights into North Korea

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Despite its nuclear capability, in certain respects North Korea resembles a failed state sitting uneasily atop a shifting internal foundation. This instability is due in part to the devastating famine of the 1990s and the state's inability to fulfill the economic obligations that it had assumed, forcing institutions, enterprises, and households to cope with the ensuing challenges of maintaining stability with limited cooperation between the Korean government and the international community. The ineffective response to the humanitarian crisis triggered by the famine resulted in the outflow of perhaps tens of thousands of refugees whose narratives are largely overlooked in evaluating the efficacy of the humanitarian aid program. Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea uses extensive surveys with refugees who now reside in China or South Korea to provide extraordinary insight into the changing pathways to power, wealth, and status within North Korea.These refugee testimonies provide an invaluable interpretation of the regime, its motivations, and its capabilities and assess the situation on the ground with the rise of inequality, corruption, and disaffection in the decade since the famine. Through the lens of these surveys, preeminent North Korean experts Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland carefully document the country's transition from a centrally planned economy to a highly distorted market economy, characterized by endemic corruption and widening inequality. The authors chart refugees' reactions to the current conditions and consider the disparity between the perceived and real benefit of the international humanitarian aid program experienced by this displaced population. Finally, the book examines these refugees' future prospects for integration into a new society.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 12.7mm | 249.47g
  • The Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Washington, United States
  • English
  • graphs, charts, index
  • 0881324388
  • 9780881324389
  • 439,529

About Stephan Haggard

Marcus Noland, executive vice president and director of studies, has been associated with the Institute since 1985. From 2009 through 2012, he served as the Institute's deputy director. His research addresses a wide range of topics at the interstice of economics, political science, and international relations. His areas of geographical knowledge and interest include Asia and Africa where he has lived and worked, and the Middle East. In the past he has written extensively on the economies of Japan, Korea, and China, and is unique among American economists in having devoted serious scholarly effort to the problems of North Korea and the prospects for Korean unification. He won the 2000-01 Ohira Memorial Award for his book Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas. Stephan Haggard, visiting fellow, is the Lawrence and Sallye Krause Distinguished Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego. He has been a consultant to AID, the World Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the OECD and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of The Political Economy of the Asian Financial Crisis (2000) and coauthor of Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform (Columbia University Press, 2007).show more

Review quote

Witness to Transformation is an enormously important book in that it marks the first methodical study of public opinion among North Koreans... The leading scholars of the North Korea famine of the 1990s, Haggard and Noland find a decade later a populace focused on trying to feed themselves through their own market activity, ignoring the regime's attempts to restore the socialist system. Although the North Koreans surveyed were reluctant to criticize Kim Jong Il,... the majority listened to foreign media and resisted in their own quiet way. -- Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea Witness to Transformation breaks new ground in presenting the first comprehensive portrait of North Korea based on the experiences and views of the growing number of defectors who have fled the country. They describe an inhuman system that is steadily eroding, and a population that is beginning to awaken from a long night of totalitarianism. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the suffering of the people of North Korea and the prospect for peace on the divided Korean peninsula. -- Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy Witness to Transformation casts a unique window onto the changing dynamics of the world's most brutalized country, North Korea. Haggard and Noland make brilliant use of interviews with the growing ranks of refugees to extend our understanding of the human rights and humanitarian catastrophe that is North Korea, and to expose its mounting corruption, citizen disaffection, and popular willingness to consider political alternatives. Both for its stunning research findings and its forceful policy recommendations, this book is indispensable. -- Larry Diamond, Stanford Universityshow more

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