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Legitimacy and Stability of North Korea
Region: Asia
Location: Korea, North
Published November 18, 2015
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Since the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994 there have been numerous predictions that the collapse of the North Korean political system would be imminent, yet the Kim dynasty continues to rule. Although some prominent experts have emphasized the resilience of the North Korean regime, there is a dearth of explanations as to why outlook on the fate of North Korea’s leadership has differed so greatly from reality.

Dr. Son Taek Wang attempts to fill this gap in the scholarly discourse by utilizing Max Weber’s framework of legitimacy to argue the underlying assumptions of the system of authority in North Korea are incorrect, claiming the actual power structure is similar to that of monarchies. Viewing North Korea as such can help clarify actions mistaken for instability, such as the execution of Jang Song-taek and the frequent rotation of high-ranking military officers, and can lead to more constructive policies towards the country.

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