+ North Korea: Migration Patterns and Prospects [website]
Nautilus Institute
Special Report, November 4, 2010
By Courtland Robinson

This paper originally presented at the conference "The Korea Project: Planning for the Long Term," sponsored by the Korean Studies Institute, USC, and Korea Chair, CSIS. Held at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, August 20-21, 2010.

+ NORTH KOREA: Mystery of the last "Hermit Kingdom [website]
Forum 18 News 25 February 2004

+ The “Domestic Revolution” Policy and Traditional Confucianism in North Korean State Formation [website]
Jin Woong Kang
Harvard Asia Quarterly, Volume IX, Number 4 (Fall 2005)

This is a very interesting study of the impact of traditional values, specifically Confucian, on the formation of society in the early years of North Korea as a communist state. It looks at how these values have contrasted with or reinforced the values promoted by the North Korean state and helps to give a richer understanding of present-day North Korean society.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ Lessons of History and Contemporary Challenges in Korean-Chinese Relations: “Will Flowers Bloom without Fragrance?” [website]
Alexandre Y. Mansourov
Harvard Asia Quarterly, Volume IX, Number 4 (Fall 2005)

This is a thoughtful review of the history of Korean-Chinese relations. It raises some interesting questions from an early 2006 perspective; however, events in 2007 have already changed some of the underlying some conclusions.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ Classical Socialism in North Korea and its Transformation: The Role and Future of Agriculture [website]
Ruediger Frank
Harvard Asia Quarterly, Volume IX, Number 4 (Fall 2005)

Dr. Frank draws heavily on the pioneering work of Janos Kornai in describing the economics of socialism and applies it to North Korean agricultural policy and its results. This is a valuable article.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ North Korea: De-Stalinization From Below And The Advent Of New Social Forces [website]
Written by Andrei Lankov
Harvard Asia Quarterly, Volume IX, Number 4 (Fall 2005)

This article looks at the “slow disintegration of the ‘Social Contract’ in North Korea as the government’s efforts to maintain an isolated society are failing.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey


+ Juche: A Christian Study of North Korea's State Religion
Thomas J. Belke
Living Sacrifice Book Company, 1999

North Korea is a land oppressed by a false religion, the religion of Juche created by and for the worship of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Mr. Belke provides a great deal of documentation as to precisely why this ideology and its hold on the land and people of North Korea should be considered religious. It is not merely a philosophical or economic theory but much more than these, it is a religion and the people of North Korea hold and practice it with religious zeal. Anyone who hopes to deal with North Korea or to reach its people with the freeing and saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, must confront this religion and the hold it has over this nation.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag
By Chol-Hwan Kang and Pierre Rigoulot; translated by Yair Reiner
Basic Books, 2001

Mr. Kang was the first inmate of a North Korean prison camp to escape North Korea and tell his story. Now living in South Korea, he has a passion for revealing the truth about the North. It is an excellent, well-written introduction to the psychology and sociology of North Korea as well as the peculiar hurdles faced by those who would make it in a democratic, free-market world. I strongly recommend reading this book to build your understanding of the strength of the hold that North Korean propaganda and culture have on its people.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty
By Bradley Martin

Thomas Dunne Books, Martin Press
New York 2004

This is a massive look at the life and times of Kim Il Song and his son Kim Jong Il and what they have done to North Korea. It is quite readible, contains a lot of history and pulls together a lot of information that Bradley Martin has gathered from a variety of sources. It gives a pretty comprehensive one-volume look at North Korea from an outsider's perspective. Mr. Martin covered North Korea as a reporter for many years being one of the first American reporters to be allowed to interview leaders, view North Korea and report in the American press. While quite large, it is a very readible tome and is to be recommended.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ Living with the Enemy: Inside North Korea
By Richard Saccone Ph.D.
Seoul, 2006

Following many years in South Korea, Dr. Saccone spent a year as the U.S. representative on the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) light water reactor project in North Korea. During that time, he had extensive experience negotiating with North Koreans and, to a somewhat limited extent, exploring the country as much as he could. This book is a friendly look at North Korea and North Koreans from his experience living there. He shares numerous insights into North Korean culture and mentality, many of them quite subtle. He writes in a very open style that makes for a very approachable work. It is important for the look that it gives us into the thoughts and beliefs of the many North Korean with which he interacted.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ Understanding Regime Dynamics in North Korea
Edited by Chung-in Moon
Yonsei University Press Seoul 1998

This is an important collection of essays from the international conference on "Unraveling Regime Dynamics in North Korea: Contending Perspectives and Comparative Implications" held in 1997. As such, some of the work here is a bit dated. There are numerous references to what Kim Jong Il is expected to do or not to do in relation to assuming more formal power once the three-year mourning period for his father is completed. Even so, this volume contains good surveys of the state of North Korea studies in South Korea, Japan, the United States and Europe as of 1997. Any serious student should review these surveys. All the essays have some value to them. Several are quite excellent and provide considerable insight especially from original research on society in the North based on numerous interviews of refugees.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

North Korea: A guide to Economic and Political Developments
Jeffries, I.
New York: Routledge 2006

This book is a collection of articles and analyses about North Korea. It is an excellent source for information on North Korea’s foreign policy, political and economic developments until 2006. The author provides an extensive coverage of the events that led to the famine, the famine and the economic reforms of 2002; as well as the 1994 nuclear crisis and the inter-Korean summit of 2000.

Reviewed by Marie-Laure Verdier

Hungry for Peace
Smith, H.
Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace 2005

Hazel Smith’s experiences of working in North Korea with humanitarian organizations, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF, UNDP and Caritas. Smith’s view is that beyond humanitarian concerns, foreign aid workers have multiplied efforts to build a relationship of trust with the North Koreans, thus creating a space for capacity building, peace building and possibly the emergence of a civil society and social changes.

Reviewed by Marie-Laure Verdier


+ The Particular Challenges of Reconstructing North Korean Society
[PowerPoint Presentation - English]
[PowerPoint Presentation - Korean]
Ben Torrey, Director, The Fourth River Project
Lecture prepared for North Korea Study Schools

This lecture (PowerPoint presentation with accompanying notes) examines some of the fundamental issues related to Communist economics, specifically centralized planning, and its impact on the economy and society. It gives a better understanding of reasons behind much of the current situation in North Korea that, if not addressed, will undermine efforts to improve the economy and society. It also looks briefly at the sociological and psychological impacts of implementing centralized planning.

Papers and Reports

+ Issues and Problems of Adaptation of North Korean Defectors to South Korean Society: An In-depth Interview Study with 32 Defectors [website]
Dr. Woo Taek Jeon
Department of Psychiatry, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
Yonsei Medical Journal
Vol. 41, No. 3, 2000

This paper is a bit dated at this point; however it was early work that Dr. Jeon did on the issue of how well North Korean defectors have adapted to South Korea. Since this paper was published, he has done considerably more work and has published more on the subject; however, it is not generally available online. His and other subsequent research has continued to corroborate his initial findings as presented here.

I encourage reading anything by Dr. Jeon, Woo Taek in either English or Korean.

Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ The Invisible Exodus: North Koreans in the People's Republic of China [website]
Human Rights Watch, November 2002

This was one of the first major reports released publicly of the North Korean refugee situation. It is a comprehensive discussion of the issue, one which is required reading for anyone concerned about it. There are a number of other important papers about North Korea on the Human Rights Watch website as well.

+ Kim Jong Il Regime and Its Strategic Framework [pdf file]
by Sarah Kim, 2002

+ A Comparison Between North Korean and Chinese Communism [pdf file]
Jenhie R. Lee

This paper provides a good introductory discussion of North Korea's borrowing from the People's Republic of China then carrying to a greater extreme a variety of ideas and practices. It also looks at the age-old relationship between the two. This Korean "extremism" is something that has been observed by others in numerous political, ideological, cultural and religious areas. One example is the nature of Korean Confucianism that is much stricter and more thoroughly integrated into Korean culture and relationships then it ever was in China.

+ Korean Pathetique: A Symphony of Refugee Tears Unheeded [pdf file]
Tim Peters
Founder/Director, Helping Hands Korea

This paper was prepared for the volume "Dynamic Korea: Prosperity Amidst Adversity" produced by the World Economic Forum. It discusses the North Korean refugee situation and some approaches to dealing with it.

+ Chinese-North Korean Discourse: Pathways to the Future [pdf file]
John C. Sweda
The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

This recent paper is a good discussion of the dynamics of the relationship between China and North Korea, especially through the various changes it has undergone since 1950 with implications for the future. It shows the ways in which China and North Korea need each other and the affect of this on their relationship. I was struck by the way that Kim Il Sung played China and the Soviet Union off against each other throughout the Cold War. This was an excellent training for Kim's son, Kim Jong Il for his present manipulations of world powers over the nuclear issue in order to get what he desires. His skill at such manipulation should come as no surprise when seen in the light of past history.


+ Yonhap News North Korea Newsletter
While technically not a journal, this is an excellent weekly print magazine published by Yonhap News that covers current events in and related to North Korea. Each issue also includes thoughtful analysis and special reports in addition to the news.

+ Harvard Asia Quarterly, Volume IX, Number 4 (Fall 2005)
This issue of the Quarterly is dedicated to North Korea under the general title “New Perspectives on North Korea”. It is an excellent collection of valuable articles. Specific articles are reviewed and linked elsewhere.

+ North Korean Review
The North Korean Review is the first academic journal in North America or Europe to focus exclusively on North Korea. The purpose of NKR is to provide readers with an improved understanding of the country’s complexities and the threat it presents to global stability.

+ Korea Journal
The Korea Journal (ISSN 0023-3900) was founded as an English journal in 1961 with the ultimate aim of globally promoting all facets of Korean Studies. It appeared as a monthly until 1990, then became a quarterly publication and, more importantly, made a concentrated effort to become an academic journal. From time to time, the journal contains articles pertaining specifically to North Korea.

+ Korea Observer
The KOREA OBSERVER, an English quarterly journal, has been published by THE INSTITUTE OF KOREAN STUDIES since 1968. The research articles are contributed by scholars and experts on various subjects, such as Korean political, economic, social, and cultural issues, as well as Korean unification, North Korea, and Korea’s foreign relations.

+ International Journal of Korean History
International Journal of Korean History(IJKH) is published by the Center for Korean History, affiliated with the Institute of Korean Culture, Korea University, Seoul, the Republic of Korea. The Center was established in November 1997 to promote and further the study of Korean history at the national and global level.

+ Journal of East Asian Studies
The Journal of East Asian Studies (JEAS ) is an international and interdisciplinary journal that publishes social science research on current issues in the East Asian region.


+ Official Homepage of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea

+ Nodong Shinmun, the official daily newspaper of the North Korean Workers Party

+ Korea Central News Agency (North Korean official news agency)

+ North Korean Studies

+ North Korea Index

+ Country Studies, North Korea

+ Selected Reference Materials for Research on North Korea
Columbia University Law School

+ University of Detroit Mercy
College of Business Administration
Institute for North Korea

"The University of Detroit Mercy established a non-partisan, non-proprietary research center on North Korea within its College of Business Administration in April 2004. This center, the Institute for North Korea (INK), will be the first research cetner in the United States or Europe focused exclusively on North Korea."

+ Rand Corporation Selected Hot Topics on North Korea

+ Jurist Legal Intelligence
North Korea Constitution, Government, etc.

+ The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: North Korea

+ The National Security Archive - North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: The Declassified Record
April 25, 2003

+ The DPRK Briefing Book
The Nautilus Institute

+ North Korea Nuclear Profile
Nuclear Threat Initiative

+ Monterey Institute of International Studies: North Korea Special Collection