North Korea: Fading Totalitarianism in the 'Hermit Kingdom'

23 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2010

Date Written: May 28, 2010


North Korea is perceived by many as one of the most totalitarian societies of modern time. But in the wake of the economic collapse of the 1990s, North Korean totalitarianism has grappled with new conditions. This paper examines how the country’s totalitarian character has been upheld through the institutional changes instigated by the economic collapse and subsequent famine in the country. It strives to answer whether today’s North Korea should still be characterized as a totalitarian society, and, if not, what system then governs the country.

Keywords: North Korea, Totalitarianism, Authoritarianism, Institutional Change, Planned Economy, Social Control

JEL Classification: P20, P30, P36

Suggested Citation

Katzeff Silberstein, Benjamin, North Korea: Fading Totalitarianism in the 'Hermit Kingdom' (May 28, 2010). IFN Working Paper No. 836, Available at SSRN: or

Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15

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