In This Review

The End of North Korea
The End of North Korea
By Nicholas Eberstadt
American Enterprise Institute Press, 1999, 175 pp

Eberstadt brilliantly challenges the conventional wisdom that North Korea is ruled by madmen, arguing that Pyongyang's rulers are in fact rationally adhering to the regime logic of a Leninist state. Famines, for example, have been common in all such states; in North Korea, they just occurred after most citizens had adjusted to urban life. The leadership once skillfully played off China and the Soviet Union for material support but made the mistake in 1980 of turning fully to Moscow. It now knows that any serious opening to the world would destroy socialism, just as has occurred in Russia and China. Hence, the regime now threatens mass destruction to extort aid from South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Such aid does not contradict the regime's ideology of self-reliance because it has always depended on outside help, first from communist and now from capitalist states. Eberstadt convincingly argues that the inherent flaws in communism will inevitably doom North Korea -- and it is time to start preparing for the eventual reunification with the south. He insists that this will not be as costly for South Korea as is generally assumed, because the burden of social services is not comparable to the German case. Eberstadt demonstrates that for all of North Korea's secrecy, it is possible to analyze its problems in the context of Marxism-Leninism's tragic flaws.