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Analyzing the political survival prospects of Kim Jong-un's North Korean regime through the framework of selectorate theory

  • Hanhee Lee (a1)
Abstract

The political survival of Kim Jong-un's regime in North Korea has been a major international concern since his accession in 2012. While international research has endeavored to diagnose the stability of the regime based on its limitations and weaknesses due to political, economic, and international factors, studies based on baseline theoretical models of leadership stability have rarely been undertaken. This paper employs selectorate theory to address this issue, by identifying the selectorate and winning coalition in North Korea and illustrating their relationships with Kim Jong-un's political survival. To reexamine the analytical framework and results, this study has undertaken in-depth interviews with high-level North Korean defectors who have served in key power apparatuses of Kim Jong-il and/or Kim Jong-un's regime. It analyzes how frequent co-optation of top aides, economic ideologies, and policies are utilized for political survival. It further explains the correlation of his political survival with the party-dependent bureaucracy, internal reign of terror, development of nuclear capacity, and continuous military provocations. However, as the regime further intensifies the reign of terror, the possibility of a coup d’état by the selectorate and coalition cannot be completely ruled out.

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Corresponding author
Corresponding author. Email: hanhee7@sm.ac.kr
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Japanese Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 1468-1099
  • EISSN: 1474-0060
  • URL: /core/journals/japanese-journal-of-political-science
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