Civil–military relations in a dictatorship

North Korea

Authored by: Jargalsaikhan Mendee

The Routledge Handbook of Civil–Military Relations

Print publication date:  September  2012
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415782739
eBook ISBN: 9780203105276
Adobe ISBN: 9781136253218


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Comprehending the nature and dynamics of civil–military relations in a dictatorship is a daunting task. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) presents the unique combination of a one-man dictatorship and a one-party state. Naturally, a dictatorship is concerned with regime security and controls all aspects of life in the country. The single-party state indoctrinates its entire population and keeps everyone immersed in the party-led political society. In addition, the external security environment of North Korea is complicated, in many ways comparable to Israel, as the regime faces real threats from the neighborhood. 1 While this chapter will not directly discuss the external security environment, which is beyond the focus of the Handbook, the presence of external threats enables dictatorship, and allows the party to impose stricter control over the daily lives of its citizens, as well as to justify defense priorities. The nature of the regime poses major challenges to research, by limiting accessibility to and the reliability of data and other information.

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