Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

Why Is There No Rebellion in North Korea?

Fri, March 27, 8:30 to 10:30am, Chicago Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Floor: Lobby, Level 3, Parlor D


Given its dire economic conditions and abrupt leadership changes in recent years, North Korea is considered one of the most likely autocracies that could experience a large-scale internal conflict. In reality, however, there has been no such turmoil so far. What explains the lack of insurgency in North Korea? The goal of this paper is to provide an answer to the aforementioned question. Since insurgent groups are usually formed by a small number of the relatively well-educated who have support networks and serious grievances toward the inner circle of ruling elites, we argue that the North Korean regime has successfully established a unique elite control system that prevents a possible elite schism from developing into a dangerous insurgency. To support our argument, we draw empirical evidences from the historical development of elite control system in North Korea and in-depth interviews with North Korean defectors who were high ranked in state apparatus, which are systematically conducted for the first time in North Korea studies.