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North Korea Table of Contents

North Korea


North Korea came into being in 1945, in the midst of a prolonged confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. North Korea was, and in some ways remains, a classic Cold War state, driven by the demands of the long-standing conflict with the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea), and the United States and its allies. It emerged in the heyday of Stalinism, which influenced North Korea's decision to give priority to heavy industry in its economic program (see Economic Development and Structural Change , ch. 3). North Korea was a state forged in warfare: by a civil struggle fought at the beginning of the regime and by a vicious fratricidal war fought while the system was still in infancy. All these influences combined to produce a hardened leadership that knew how to hold onto power. But North Korea also evolved as a rare synthesis between foreign models and native influences; the political system was deeply rooted in native soil, drawing on Korea's long history of unitary existence on a small peninsula surrounded by greater powers.

Data as of June 1993