Reflections on North Korean Government and Society

Media reports pointing toward preparations for a fourth nuclear test at North Korea’s Punggye-ri test site have re-focussed international attention on North Korea and its emerging nuclear weapons capability.  Pyongyang’s nuclear programme is highly important to the political economy of the DPRK state and the perpetuation of the Kim regime. The December 2013 execution of Jang Song Taek and the recent Kirby Report into human rights abuses in the DPRK have similarly captivated the world’s attention as subtle changes to the North Korean economy are beginning to reshape North Korean society.


I discussed these themes in a guest lecture for the first year undergraduate subject States, Security and International Relations (POL1SNS) at La Trobe University on Thursday 1st May, 2014. The session was run in a Q&A format to allow students to set the agenda for my presentation. In formulating questions to ask me during the session, the students got to engage with the subject matter at a deeper level than they otherwise would have as a passive audience in the traditional lecture format.

Special thanks to States, Security and International Relations coordinator Dr Daniel Bray for the invitation to present this lecture, and to the POL1SNS student cohort for their warm reception and enthusiastic participation.


Additional Reading:

Habib, B. (2013) ‘Strategic Player, Economic Outlier: Regional Integration and North Korea’s Place in Northeast Asia‘. Griffith Asia Quarterly, 1(2/3): 1-23.

Habib, B. (2013). “Escalation Gambit: North Korea’s Perilous Play for Security and Prosperity.” e-International Relations. 10 April 2013.

Habib, B. (2011) ‘North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program and the Maintenance of the Songun System’, The Pacific Review, 24(1): 43-64.

Habib, B. (2010) ‘Rogue Proliferator? North Korea’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle & its Relationship to Regime Perpetuation‘, Energy Policy (38) 6, 2826-2834.

Habib, Ben and O’Neil, Andrew (2009) ‘North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear weapons state and the end of the disarmament paradigm‘, Global Change, Peace & Security 21(3): 377-387.


Further Information:

38 North


North Korean Economy Watch

North Korea Leadership Watch

North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Korean Central News Agency


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