Paul French has attempted to write about one of the world’s most secretive societies and one that has remained largely unknown to the general public apart from hearing of the fears frequently expressed in the media about the threat posed by its nuclear weapons. The task might seem almost impossible, but the author has gleaned data from a number of North Korea-watching research centres and the testimony of numerous defectors, including some formerly of high rank in the long-established regime of the three Kims: the founder, Kim Il-sung, his son, Kim Jong-il, and grandson, Kim Jong-un. The result is a fairly comprehensive, though rather dated, survey of the political and economic status of a failed state trapped by its ideology and the need to preserve the infallibility of its ruling dynasty.
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