Skip to main content

A cultural neuroscience perspective on North Korean strategic culture: Implications for tailored deterrence

  • John M. Friend (a1)

Given the complexity of the current nuclear age and the absence of work on deterrence under true multipolarity, interdisciplinary models can provide new perspectives on tailored deterrence. Drawing from recent findings in the life sciences, this article offers a cultural neuroscience approach to deterrence decision-making, with special attention given to the ways in which culture interacts with cognition and the security environment to shape behavioral outcomes during conflict. Since North Korea remains largely a “black box” in international relations, a cultural neuroscience perspective can provide valuable insight into the effects of cultural conditioning on perception and cognition within the context of nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula. Through an analysis of the bureaucratic and military structures, leadership characteristics, and institutional landscapes shaping North Korean strategic culture, this article examines the influences of historical memory and cultural values, such as collectivism, honor, and face-saving, on political decision-making in Pyongyang.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      A cultural neuroscience perspective on North Korean strategic culture
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      A cultural neuroscience perspective on North Korean strategic culture
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      A cultural neuroscience perspective on North Korean strategic culture
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Correspondence: John M. Friend, Shidler College of Business, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 2404 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822. Email:
Hide All
1 Freedman, L., The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, 3rd ed. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).
2 Mandelbaum, M., The Nuclear Revolution: International Politics Before and After Hiroshima (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
3For a comprehensive overview of the causes of proliferation in the Middle East, see, Bahgat, G. G., Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007).
4In Northeast Asia, the possibility of Japanese nuclear proliferation in response to an aggressive North Korea and China’s growing influence in the region has received a great deal of attention as Japan’s hard-liners continue to call for the development of nuclear weapons. See, e.g., Machida, S., “Who supports nuclear armament in Japan? Threat perception and Japan’s nuclear armament,” Asian Journal of Political Science , 2014, 22(2): 126146.
5 Windrem, R., “Japan has nuclear ‘bomb in the basement,’ and China isn’t happy,” NBC News, March 11, 2014,, accessed July 23, 2018.
6 Sang-hun, C. and Landler, M., “North Korea is willing to discuss giving up nuclear weapons, South says,” New York Times, March 6, 2018,, accessed July 23, 2018.
7 Florick, D., “Kim Jong-un’s Winter Olympics ruse,” The Diplomat, March 6, 2018,, accessed July 23, 2018.
8 Kang, A., “The lens of juche: Understanding the reality of North Korean policymakers,” Review of International Affairs , 2003, 3(1): 4163.
9 Warrick, J., Nakashima, E., and Fifield, A., “North Korea now making missile ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say,” Washington Post, August 8, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
10 Posen, B. R., Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992).
11 Payne, K., The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001).
12For example, Hatemi, P. K. and McDermott, R., Man Is By Nature a Political Animal: Evolution, Biology, Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).
13 Thayer, B., Darwin and International Relations: On the Evolutionary Origins of War and Ethnic Conflict (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009).
14 Payne, K., Deterrence in the Second Nuclear Age (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996), pp. 79116.
15 Thayer, B., “Thinking about nuclear deterrence theory: Why evolutionary psychology undermines its rational actor assumptions,” Comparative Strategy , 2007, 26(4): 311323.
16 Gray, C. S., “Strategic culture as context: The first generation of theory strikes back,” Review of International Studies , 1999, 25(1): 4969, at p. 55.
17Gray, p. 56.
18 Hafner-Burton, E. M., Haggard, S., Lake, D. A., and Victor, D. G., “The behavioral revolution and international relations,” International Organization , 2017, 71(S1): S1S31.
19 Walker, S. G., Malici, A., and Schafer, M., eds., Rethinking Foreign Policy Analysis: States, Leaders, and the Microfoundations of Behavioral International Relations (New York: Routledge, 2011).
20 Hatemi, P. K. and McDermott, R., “Role of genes/environment,” in Topics in the Neurobiology of Aggression: Implications to Deterrence, DiEulis, D. and Cabayan, H., eds. (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 2013).
21 Johnson, D. D. P., Overconfidence and War: The Havoc and Glory of Positive Illusion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004).
22 Scheber, T., “Evolutionary psychology, cognitive function, and deterrence,” Comparative Strategy , 2011, 30(4): 453480.
23Thayer, 2009.
24Hafner-Burton et al.
25 McDermott, R. and Hatemi, P. K., “Political ecology: On the mutual formation of biology and culture,” Advances in Political Psychology , 2014, 35(S1): 111127.
26 Lawson, S., Culture and Context in World Politics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).
27 Lapid, Y. and Kratochwil, F., eds., The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995).
28 Checkel, J. T., “The constructivist turn in international relations theory,” World Politics , 1998, 50(2): 324348.
29According to Morgan, not since Morton Kaplan’s unit veto approach or Kenneth Waltz’s argument for nuclear proliferation has there been “a serious analysis” of deterrence under multipolarity. See, Morgan, P. M., “The state of deterrence in international politics today,” Contemporary Security Policy , 2012, 33(1): 85107, at p. 97.
30 Leites, N. C., The Operational Code of the Politburo (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2007).
31U.S. Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff, “White paper on leveraging neuroscientific and neurotechnological (NeuroS&T) developments with a focus on influence and deterrence in a networked world,” Strategic Multi-Layer Assessment Work Summary, 2014,, accessed July 23, 2018.
32 Hudson, V. M., “Cultural expectations of one’s own and other nations’ foreign policy action templates,” Political Psychology , 1999, 20(4): 767797.
33 Whitehead, C., “Why the behavioral sciences need the concept of the culture ready brain,” Anthropological Theory , 2012, 12(1): 4371.
34See, e.g., Grossmann, I. and Na, J., “Research in culture and psychology: Past lessons and future challenges,” WIREs Cognitive Science , 2014, 5: 114.
35 Kim, H. and Sasaki, J. Y., “Cultural neuroscience: Biology of the mind in cultural contexts,” Annual Review of Psychology , 2014, 65: 487514.
36 Jackson, V., “Beyond tailoring: North Korea and the promises of managed deterrence,” Contemporary Security Policy , 2012, 33(2): 289310.
37The concept of “strategic asymmetry” was developed by Andrew Marshall, who served as director of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of New Assessment from 1973 to 2015. See, Marshall, A. W., Long-Term Competition with the Soviets: A Framework for Strategic Analysis (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1972).
38 Krepinevich, A. and Watts, B., The Last Warrior: Andrew Marshall and the Shaping of American Defense Strategy (New York: Basic Books, 2015).
39For an official assessment of strategic asymmetry, see Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Strategy Review 1999(Washington: Joint Staff, 1999).
40 Sauer, T., “A second nuclear revolution: From nuclear primacy to post-existential deterrence,” Journal of Strategic Studies , 2009, 32(5): 745767.
41 Knopf, J. W., “The fourth wave in deterrence research,” Contemporary Security Policy , 2010, 31(1): 133.
42 Krauthammer, C., “The unipolar moment,” Foreign Affairs , 1990/1991, 70(1): 2333.
43 Gray, C. S., The Sheriff: American’s Defense of the New World Order (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009).
44White House, “National Security Strategy,” May 2010, p. 4,, accessed July 23, 2018.
45U.S. Department of Defense, “Quadrennial Defense Review,” March 2014, p. v,, accessed July 23, 2018.
46 Allison, G., Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (New York: Holt, 2004).
47 Garrity, P. J., “The third nuclear age?”, Claremont Review of Books, April 27, 2015,, accessed July 23, 2018.
48 Wilner, A. S., Deterring Rational Fanatics (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).
49 Mazanec, B. M. and Thayer, B. A., Deterring Cyber Warfare: Bolstering Strategic Stability in Cyberspace (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
50 Stavridis, J., “How terrorists can exploit globalization.” Washington Post, May 31, 2013,, accessed July 23, 2018.
51 Lebow, R. N. and Gross-Stein, J., “Rational deterrence theory: I think, therefore I deter,” World Politics , 1989, 41(2): 208224.
52U.S. Department of Defense, “Deterrence Operations Joint Operating Concept, Version 2.0,” December 2006, p. 44,, accessed July 23, 2018.
53For a detailed analysis of the DO-JOC, see, Knopf, J. W., “Wrestling with deterrence: Bush administration strategy after 9/11,” Contemporary Security Policy , 2008, 29(2): 229265.
54 Bunn, M. E., “Can deterrence be tailored?,” Strategic Forum , 2007, 225: 18.
55For example, see, Uskul, A. K. and Oyserman, D., “When the message-frame fits the salient cultural-frame, messages feel more persuasive,” Psychology & Health , 2010, 25(3): 321337.
56See also, Hirsh, J. B., Kang, S. K., and Bodenhausen, G. V., “Personalized persuasion: Tailoring persuasive appeals to recipients’ personality traits,” Psychological Science , 2012, 23(6): 578581.
57 Hudson, V. H., “Foreign policy analysis: Actor-specific theory and the ground of international relations,” Foreign Policy Analysis , 2005, 1(1): 130.
58 Gray, C. S., “Gaining compliance: The theory of deterrence and its modern application,” Comparative Strategy , 2010, 29(3): 278283, at p. 278.
59Cited in M. Raska, “Tailored deterrence: Influencing North Korean decision-making,” The Diplomat, April 26, 2016,, accessed July 23, 2018.
60 Metz, S. and Johnson, D. V. II, “Asymmetry and U.S. military strategy: Definition, background, and strategic concepts,” Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, January 2001,, accessed July 23, 2018.
61“Kim Jong Un’s 2018 New Year Address,” January 1, 2018,, accessed July 23, 2018.
62 Adamsky, D., “From Israel with deterrence: Strategic culture, intra-war coercion and brute force,” Security Studies , 2017, 26(1): 157184.
63U.S. Department of Defense, 2006.
64Metz and Johnson, p. 9.
65 Smith, C. I., “North Korea: The case for strategic entanglement,” Orbis , 2006, 50(2): 343353.
66 Park, S.-Y., “North Korea’s military policy under the Kim Jong-un regime,” Journal of Asian Public Policy , 2016, 9(1): 5774.
67See also, Bechtol, B. E. Jr., “Maintaining a rogue military: North Korea’s military capabilities and strategy at the end of the Kim Jong-il era,” International Journal of Korean Studies , 2012, 26(1): 160191.
68 Geertz, C., The Interpretation of Culture (New York: Basic Books, 1973), p. 89.
69 Ross, M. H., “Culture and identity in comparative political analysis,” in Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture, and Structure, Lichbach, M. I. and Zukerman, A. S., eds. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 4280.
70 Pye, L. W., “Political culture,” in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Stills, D. L., ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1968), vol. 12, p. 218.
71 Tilly, C., Popular Contention in Great Britain, 1758–1834 (New York: Routledge, 2005), p. 42.
72 Hudson, V. M., Foreign Policy Analysis: Classical and Contemporary Theory (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), p. 110.
73See, Snyder, J. L., The Soviet Strategic Culture: Implications for Limited Nuclear Operations (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1977).
74 Booth, K., Strategy and Ethnocentrism (London: Croom Helm, 1979).
75 Gray, C. S., “National style in strategy: The American example,” International Security , 1981, 6(2): 2147.
76 Hymans, J. E. C., The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation: Identity, Emotions, and Foreign Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
77 Lantis, J. S., “Strategic culture and tailored deterrence: Bridging the gap between theory and practice,” Contemporary Security Policy , 2009, 30(3): 467485.
78See, Hoffman, F., “Strategic culture and ways of war: Elusive fiction or essential concept,” Naval War College Review , 2017, 70(2): 137142.
80 Johnston, A. I., “Thinking about strategic culture,” International Security , 1995, 19(4): 3264.
81 Chiao, J. Y., “At the frontier of cultural neuroscience: Introduction to the special issue,” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience , 2010, 5(2–3): 109110.
82 Han, S., Northoff, G., Vogeley, K., Wexler, B. E., Kitayama, S., and Varnum, M. E. W., “A cultural neuroscience approach to the biosocial nature of the human brain,” Annual Review of Psychology , 2013, 64: 335359, at p. 338.
83 Sasaki, J. Y. and Kim, H. S., “Nature, nurture, and their interplay: A review of cultural neuroscience,” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology , 2017, 48(1): 422, at p. 5.
84See also, Chiao, J. Y., Harada, T., Komeda, H., Li, Z., Mano, Y., Saito, D., and Parrish, T. B. et al. , “Dynamic cultural influences on neural representations of the self,” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience , 2010, 22(1): 111.
85 Khan, A., Schmidt, L. A., and Chen, X., “Cultural neuroscience of emotion: Toward a developmental framework,” Psychology & Neuroscience , 2017, 10(1): 1140, at p. 11.
86 Han, S. and Ma, Y., “A culture-behavior-brain loop model of human development,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 2015, 19(11): 666676.
87 Chiao, J. Y., “Cultural neuroscience: A once and future discipline,” Progress in Brain Research , 2009, 178: 287304, at p. 292.
88 Dien, J., Blok, S., and Glazer, S., “Cultural priming: Adopting the adversary’s mindset to improve analysis,” University of Maryland Center for Advance Study of Language, February 2011,, accessed July 23, 2018.
89 Smith, A. D., Ethno-symbolism and Nationalism: A Cultural Approach (New York: Routledge, 2009).
90 Wang, Z., Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014).
91 Fifield, A., “North Korea begins brainwashing children in cult of the Kims as early as kindergarten,” Washington Post, January 16, 2015,, accessed July 23, 2018.
92United Nation Human Rights Council, “Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” A/HRC/25/63, February 7, 2014,, accessed July 23, 2018.
93 Han, S., The Sociocultural Brain: A Cultural Neuroscience Approach to Human Nature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), p. 135.
94 Kang, J. W., “The political uses of Confucianism in North Korea,” Journal of Korean Studies , 2011, 16(1): 6387.
95Kang, p. 75.
96 Triandis, H. C., “Collectivism and individualism as cultural syndromes,” Cross-Cultural Research , 1993, 27(3–4): 155180, at p. 155.
97 Leung, A. K. Y. and Cohen, D., “Within-and between-culture variation: Individual differences and the cultural logic of honor, face, and dignity cultures,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 2011, 100(3): 507526, at p. 510.
98Sasaki and Kim, p. 12. See also, Kim, H. S., “We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 2002, 83(4): 828842.
99 Thomas, D. C., Cross-Cultural Management: Essential Concepts (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 4769.
100 Taras, V., Kirkman, B. L., and Steel, P., “Examining the impact of Culture’s Consequence: A three-decade, multilevel, meta-analytic review of Hofstede’s cultural value dimensions,” Journal of Applied Psychology , 2010, 95(3): 405439.
101 Oyserman, D., Coon, H. H., and Kemmelmeier, M., “Rethinking individualism and collectivism: Evaluation of theoretical assumptions and meta-analyses,” Psychological Bulletin , 2002, 128(1): 372.
102See, Gelfand, M., Shteynberg, G., Lee, T., Lun, J., Lyons, S., Bell, C., and Chiao, J. Y. et al. , “The cultural contagion of conflict,” Philosophical Transactions of Royal Society B , 2012, 367(1589): 692703.
103 Markus, H., Kitayama, S., and Helman, R. J., “Culture and ‘basic’ psychological principles,” in Social Psychology: Handbook of Basic Principles, Higgins, E. T. and Kruglanski, A. W., eds. (New York: Guilford Press, 1996), pp. 857913.
104 Triandis, H., Culture and Social Behavior (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994).
105 Tajfel, H., Human Groups and Social Categories (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 255.
106 LeFebvre, R. and Franke, V., “Culture matters: Individualism vs. collectivism in conflict decision making,” Societies , 2013, 3(1): 128146.
107 Bandura, A., “Moral disengagement in the perception of inhumanities,” Personality and Social Psychology Review , 1999, 3(3): 193209.
108See also, Aquino, K., Reed, A. II, Thau, S., and Freeman, D., “A grotesque and dark beauty: How moral identity and mechanisms of moral disengagement influence cognitive and emotional reactions to war,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology , 2006, 43(3): 385392.
110Hymans. See also, Holsti, Ole, “Foreign policy formation viewed cognitively,” in Structure of Decision, Jervis, R., ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), pp. 1854.
111 Cikara, M. and Van Bavel, J. J., “The neuroscience of intergroup relations: An integrative review,” Perspectives on Psychological Science , 2014, 9(3): 254274.
112LeFebvre and Franke. See also, Hogg, M. A., “Intergroup processes, group structure and social identity,” in Social Groups and Identities: Developing the Legacy of Henri Tajfel, Robinson, W. P., ed. (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1996), pp. 6594.
113Han et al., p. 337.
114 Oyserman, D., “Culture as situated cognition: Cultural mindsets, cultural fluency, and meaning making,” European Review of Social Psychology , 2011, 22(1): 164214.
115 Reynolds, P., “Past failures and future problems: The psychology of irregular war,” Small Wars & Insurgencies , 2015, 26(3): 446458.
116Reynolds, p. 448.
117 Severance, L., Bui-Wrzosinska, L., Gelfand, M. J., Lyons, S., Nowak, A., Borkowski, W., and Soomro, N. et al. , “The psychological structure of aggression across cultures,” Journal of Organizational Behavior , 2013, 34(6): 835865, at p. 836.
118For a comprehensive overview, see, Stein, J. G., “Rational deterrence against ‘irrational’ adversaries,” in Complex Deterrence: Strategy in The Global Age, Paul, T. V., Morgan, P. M., and Wirtz, J., eds. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), pp. 5884.
119In the case of Iranian deterrence decision-making, see, Guzansky, Y. and Golov, A., “The rational limitations of a nonconventional deterrence regime: The Iranian case,” Comparative Strategy , 2015, 34(2): 169184.
120 Freedman, L., The Transformation of Strategic Affairs (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), p. 36.
121See, Nisbett, R. E., The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently …and Why (New York: Free Press, 2003).
122 Rose Makus, H. and Kitayama, S., “Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation,” Psychological Review , 1991, 98(2): 224253.
123 Nisbett, R. E. and Miyamoto, Y., “The Influence of culture: Holistic versus analytic perception,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 2005, 9(10): 467473.
124 Gelfand, M. J., Nishii, L. H., Holcombe, L. M., Dyer, N., Ohbuchi, K.-I., and Fukuno, M., “Cultural influences on cognitive representations of conflict: Interpretations of conflict episodes in the United States and Japan,” Journal of Applied Psychology , 2001, 86(6): 10591074.
125Lantis, p. 467.
126 Liberman, M. D., Schreiber, D., and Ochsner, K. N., “Is political cognition like riding a bicycle? How cognitive neuroscience can inform research on political thinking,” Political Psychology , 2003, 24(4): 681704.
127Lieberman, Schreiber, and Ochsner, pp. 697–698.
128 Hatemi, P. and McDermott, R., “A neurobiological approach to foreign policy analysis: Identifying individual differences in political violence,” Foreign Policy Analysis , 2012, 8: 111129.
129Lieberman, Schreiber, and Ochsner, Schreiber, D., “Neuropolitics: Twenty years later,” Politics and the Life Sciences , 2017, 36(2): 114131.
130 Waldman, D. A., Balthazard, P. A., and Peterson, S. J., “Leadership and neuroscience: Can we revolutionize the way that inspirational leaders are identified and developed,” Academy of Management Perspectives , 2011, 25(1): 6074.
131 Lee, N., Senior, C., and Butler, M., “Leadership research and cognitive neuroscience: The state of this union,” Leadership Quarterly , 2012, 23(2): 213218.
132 Browen, D. E. and Inkpen, A. C., “Exploring the role of ‘global mindset’ in leading change in international contexts,” Journal of Applied Behavioral Science , 2009, 45(2): 239260.
133 Chiao, J. Y., Cheon, B. K., Pornpattananangkul, N., Mrazek, A. J., and Blizinsky, K. D., “Cultural neuroscience: Progress and promise,” Psychological Inquiry , 2013, 24(1): 119.
134 Kim, J., “Understanding the Hermit Kingdom as it is and as it is becoming: The past, present and future of North Korea,” Journal of Contemporary Asia , 2016, 46(1): 130140, at p. 131.
135Kim, p. 131.
136 Lankov, A., The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 257.
137 Mazarr, M. J., “Going just a little nuclear: Nonproliferation lessons from North Korea,” International Security , 1995, 20(2): 92122.
138 Pinkston, D. A. and Saunders, P. C., “Seeing North Korea clearly,” Survival , 2003, 45(3): 79102.
139 Meyer, S. M., The Dynamics of Nuclear Proliferation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).
140 Sagan, S. D., “Why do states build nuclear weapons? Three models in search of a bomb,” International Security , 1996–1997, 21(3): 5486.
141 Solingen, E., “The political economy of nuclear restraint,” International Security , 1994, 19(2): 126160.
142Lankov, p. xii.
143Lankov, p. 257.
144 Cha, V., The Impossible State: North Korea: Past and Future (New York: HarperCollins, 2012), p. 241.
145“Foreign Ministry spokesman denounces U.S. military attack on Libya,” Korean Central News Agency, March 22, 2011. Cited in A. Vorontsov, “Libya, North Korea, and the International Nonproliferation Regime,” 38 North, June 14, 2011,
146 Son, H. J., “Nuclear dilemma of North Korea: Coexistence of fear and ambition: North Korea’s strategic culture and its development of nuclear capability,” Korean Journal of Defense Analysis , 2017, 29(2): 195211.
147 Lim, J.-C., “North Korea’s path-dependent militaristic development: Ideas, policy, and institutions,” Korean Journal of Security Affairs , 2016, 21(2): 5675.
148 Park, Y. S., “Policies and ideologies of the Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea: Theoretical implications,” Asian Studies Review , 2014, 38(1): 114.
150Son, p. 199.
151Quoted in, Lee, G., “The political philosophy of juche,” Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs , 2003, 3(1): 105112, at p. 105.
152Lee, p. 105.
153 Suh, J.-J., “Making sense of North Korea: Juche as an institution,” in Origins of North Korea’s Juche: Colonialism, War, and Development, Suh, Jae-Jung, ed. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), p. 8.
154 Jong-il, Kim, On the Juche Idea (Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1982), p. 20.
155Kim Jong-il, p. 67.
156Suh, p. 15.
157Suh, p. 15.
158 Lee, J. W. and Bairner, A., “The difficult dialogue: Communism, nationalism, and political propaganda in North Korean sport,” Journal of Sport and Social Issues , 2009, 33(4): 390410, at p. 393.
159 Myers, B. R., The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters (New York: Melville House, 2010).
160 Il-sung, Kim, Let us step up socialist construction under banner of juche idea: Report at Grand Central Meeting Celebrating 30th Founding Anniversary of the DPRK, September 9, 1978 (Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1978), p. 27.
161Kim Il-sung, p. 26.
162Kim Il-sung, p. 27.
164 Kim, T., “Actualized stigma: The historical formation of anti-Americanism in North Korea,” Modern Asian Studies , 2017, 51(3): 543576.
165 Park, H. S., “North Korean perceptions of self and other: Implications for policy choices,” Pacific Affairs , 2000/2001, 73(4): 503516.
166Such sentiment was commonly expressed by Kim Il-sung: “Create many revolutionary works that reveal and punish the unforgivable crimes and brutality the American imperialists have committed on this land.” Cited in Kim, 2017, p. 570.
167 Armstrong, C. K., Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950–1992 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013), p. 30.
168Kim, 2017, p. 569.
169“Kim Jong Un’s 2016 New Year Address,” Korean Central News Agency, January 2, 2016,
170“Kim Jong Un’s 2016 New Year Address.”
171“Kim Jong Un Makes Congratulatory Speech at 4th National Conference of War Veterans,” Korean Central News Agency, July 26, 2015,
172“Kim Jong Un Makes Congratulatory Speech at 4th National Conference of War Veterans.”
173 Thompson, W. and Nalty, B. C., Within Limits: The U.S. Air Force and the Korean War (Washington, DC: Air Force Historical Studies Office, 1996),, accessed July 23, 2018.
174 Fifield, A., “Why does North Korea hate the United States? Let’s go back to the Korean War,” Washington Post, May 17, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
175 Choe, S.-H., “South Korea voices support for U.S. antimissile system,” New York Times, June 26, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
176Cited in, Choi, C., “‘Everyday politics’ in North Korea,” Journal of Asian Studies , 2013, 72(3): 655673, at p. 669.
177“Kim Il-sung’s New Year’s Address,” Rodong Sinmun, January 1, 1994.
178“DPRK Foreign Ministry Statement,” Korean Central News Agency, January 13, 2009.
179Park, 2000/2001, p. 507.
180“Kim Jong Un’s 2016 New Year Address.”
181Park, 2000/2001, p. 507.
182Son, p. 199.
183“Kim Jong Un’s 2016 New Year Address.”
184Choi, p. 656.
185Choi, p. 667.
186See also, Armstrong, C., “The cultural cold war in Korea, 1945–1950,” Journal of Asian Studies , 2003, 62(1): 7199.
187 Hwang, J., “Face-saving, reference point, and North Korea’s strategic assessments,” Korean Journal of International Relations , 2009, 49(6): 5575.
188 Braun, R. and Genkin, M., “Cultural resonance and the diffusion of suicide bombings: The role of collectivism,” Journal of Conflict Resolution , 2014, 58(7): 12581284.
189 Lee, T., Gelfand, M., and Shteynberg, G., “Culture and the contagion of conflict,” in Culture and Group Processes, Yuki, M. and Brewer, M., eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 241260.
190 Tajfel, H. and Turner, J., “An integrative theory of intergroup conflict,” in The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, Austin, W. G. and Worchel, S., eds. (Monterey, CA: Brooks-Cole, 1979), pp. 3347.
191 Jost, J. T. and Amodio, D. M., “Political ideology as motivated social cognition: Behavioral and neuroscientific evidence,” Motivation and Emotion , 2012, 36(1): 5565.
192 Hamby, S. and Grych, J., “The complex dynamic of victimization: Understanding differential vulnerability without blaming the victim,” in The Wiley Handbook on the Psychology of Violence, Cuevas, C. A. and Rennison, C. M., eds. (Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2016), pp. 6685.
193 Blagojevic, B., “Causes of ethnic conflict: A Conceptual framework,” Journal of Global Change & Governance , 2010, 3(1): 125.
194 Luterbacher, U., Emotions, Decision-Making, Conflict and Cooperation (Bingley: Emerald Group, 2017).
195Park, 2014, p. 6.
196 Chung, Y. C., “The Suryong system as the institution of collectivist development,” Journal of Korean Studies , 2007, 12(1): 4373, at pp. 51, 61.
197Chung, p. 61.
198“Ten Great Principles of the Establishment of the Unitary Ideology System,”, accessed July 23, 2018.
199“Ten Great Principles.”
200“Ten Great Principles.”
201Park, 2014, p. 6.
202Park, 2014, p. 7.
203 Dasgupta, N., Banaji, M. R., and Abelson, R. P., “Group entitativity and group perception: Associations between physical features and psychological judgement,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 1999, 77(5): 9911003, at p. 1001.
204Chung, p. 65.
205Quoted in, Jeon, M., “The Kim Jong-il Regime’s ‘military-first politics’: Structure and strategy of discourse,” Review of Korean Studies , 2009, 12(4): 181204.
206Park, 2000/2001, p. 511.
207 Park, S.-Y., “North Korea’s military policy under the Kim Jong-un Regime,” Journal of Asian Public Policy , 2016, 9(1): 5774, at p. 63.
208See also Park, 2000/2001.
209Park, 2016, p. 63.
211Son, p. 201.
212Quoted in Son, p. 203.
213A similar argument can be found in Sankaran Krishna’s analysis of the symbolism of nuclear weapons in Indian society. See, Krishna, S., “The social life of the bomb: India and the ontology of an ‘overpopulated’ society,” in South Asian Cultures of the Bomb: Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan, Abraham, I., ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), pp. 6888.
214 Kim, D. Y., “North Korea’s dual policy of nuclear and economic development and military changes,” Review of North Korean Studies , 2015, 18(2): 77120 [in Korean].
215Park, 2016, p. 66.
216 Grant, D. P., “North Korea will not stop its weapons development,” The Diplomat, July 8, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
218 Camerer, C., Loewenstein, G., and Prelec, D., “Neuroeconomics: How neuroscience can inform economics,” Journal of Economic Literature , 2005, 43: 964.
219Hymans. See also, Stein, J. G., “Threat perception in international relations,” in The Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, 2nd ed. Huddy, L., Sears, D. O., and Levy, J. S., eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 364394.
220 Lebow, R. N., Why Nations Fight: Past and Future Motives to War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
221 Löwenheim, O. and Heimann, G., “Revenge in international politics,” Security Studies , 2008, 4: 685724.
222 Mercer, J., “Emotional beliefs,” International Organizations , 2010, 64(1): 131.
223 Van Evera, S., “Hypotheses on nationalism and war,” International Security , 1994, 18(4): 539; S. Van Evera, “Primed for peace: Europe after the Cold War,” International Security, 1990/1991, 15(3): 7–57.
224Lantis, p. 470.
225 Lewis, J., “Let’s face it: North Korean nuclear weapons can hit the U.S.,” New York Times, August 3, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
226 Wolf, M., “After North Korea ICBM test, US Navy tests new missile defense radar,”Navy Times, August 4, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
227 Morgan, P., “North Korea and nuclear weapons: Nonproliferation or deterrence? or both?,” in North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence, Kim, S. C. and Cohen, M. D., eds. (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2017), pp. 1529.
228See J. Rogin, “If China won’t get tough on North Korea, Trump should get tough on China,” Washington Post, August 9, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
229 Perlez, J. and Baker, P., “Trump eyes China sanctions while seeking its help on North Korea, New York Times, August 12, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
230Suh, p. 11.
231Suh, p. 11. See also H.-K. Han, Wounded Nationalism: The Minsaengdan Incident and Kim Il Sung in Eastern Manchuria. Ph.D. dissertation. (Seattle: University of Washington, 1999).
232 Ming, L., “Changes and continuities in Pyongyang’s China policy,” in North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society, Park, K.-A. and Snyder, S., eds. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), p. 290.
233Lankov, p. xiv.
234 Gordon, M. R. and Schmitt, E., “Even the most precise strike on North Korea could prompt retaliation,” New York Times, August 10, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
235 Friedman, U., “North Korea: The military options,” The Atlantic, May 17, 2017,, accessed July 23, 2018.
236 Metz, S., “Strategic asymmetry,” Military Review , 2001, 81(4): 2331.
237 Bennett, B. W., Twomey, C. P., and Treverton, G. F., What Are Asymmetric Strategies? (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1999).
238This is already being done on a smaller scale by human rights groups such as Flash Drives for Freedom. See A. Greenberg, “Donate your old USB drives to fight North Korean brainwashing,” Wired, February 9, 2016,, accessed July 23, 2018.
239See also, Boynton, R. S., “North Korea’s digital underground,” The Atlantic , 2011, 307(3): 5461.
240According to Bennett and Lind, the collapse of North Korea could trigger a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and create nuclear insecurity on the Korean Peninsula. See, Bennett, B. W. and Lind, J., “The collapse of North Korea: Military missions and requirements,” International Security , 2011, 36(2): 84119.
241“Ten Great Principles.”
242“Ten Great Principles.”
243Chung, p. 64.
244 Lee, W. Y. and Seo, J., “‘Cultural pollution’ from the South?,” in North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society, Park, K.-A. and Snyder, S., eds. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), pp. 196207.
245 Nye, J. and Kim, Y., “Soft power and the Korean wave,” in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, Kim, Youna, ed. (New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 3142.
246 Min-Sik, Y., “S. Korean culture seeping into N. Korea,” Korea Herald, December 29, 2016,, accessed July 23, 2018.
247Son, p. 208.
248Lee and Seo.
249 Babson, B., “Future strategies for economic engagement with North Korea,” in North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society, Park, K.-A. and Snyder, S., eds. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), p. 166.
250 Lankov, A., “Low-profile capitalism: The emergence of the new merchant/entrepreneurial class in post-famine North Korea,” in North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society, Park, K.-A. and Snyder, S., eds. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), p. 189.
252Posen, p. 204.
253 Waltz, K., Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis, rev. ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).
254 Kroenig, M., “The history of proliferation optimism: Does it have a future?,” Journal of Strategic Studies , 2015, 38(1–2): 98125.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics and the Life Sciences
  • ISSN: 0730-9384
  • EISSN: 1471-5457
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-the-life-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed