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Economic Implications of a “Bold Switchover” in DPRK Security Policy

Eberstadt, Nicholas  
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    This paper examines the potentialities for a still-socialist DPRK economic policy, international financial assistance, and North Korean economic performance. it also examines the potential economic ramifications of a DPRK shift to something like “defense sufficiency,” from its current “Military-First Politics” stance, positing that the DPRK would remain as an independent socialist state on the Korean peninsula. The study points to three basic findings: 1) North Norea's recent dismal economic performance cannot be explained in terms of the generic inefficiencies of communist economies, but rather must be understood as the consequence of Pyongyang's particular and peculiar interpretation of “socialism with Korean characteristics,” in which hyper-militarization of the economy and international extortion based on military menace, figure centrally; 2) considerable new sources of Western aid would be available for Pyongyang for a genuine “bold switchover” in DPRK security policy, and even more could be found to support a shift to market-oriented economic reforms; and 3) to judge by “structural growth equations” of international economic patterns, North Korea's economic performance would likely be much better than today after a “bold switchover” in military/security policy, even if Pyongyang continued to embrace communist central economic planning.


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