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Why Is the Political Regime of North Korea Tough? Comparison with the Market Economization of China, Vietnam, and Cuba

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the stability and toughness of North Korea’s political regime from the perspective of radicalism and gradualism of the market economization. Since it is believed that gradualism keeps the regime stable. I examined the hypothesis that North Korea and Cuba effectively abandoned their socialist planned economy and introduced market economization after witnessing the economic crisis in China and Vietnam during the Cold War. As a result, North Korea and Cuba experienced the economic crisis and gradual economic development after the Cold War. The socialist planned economy remained an ideal in North Korea. Therefore, market economization became gradualism because of its suppression by the ideal in North Korea.

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  1. Laos also maintains the socialist one-party system; however, I ripped it from this research because of lack of the data.

  2. Saxonburg uses the term Patrimonial not Sultanism; however, both express the same thing [43, p. 109].

  3. The term market economy was not used in the report at the 6th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam; however, the content of the report includes the need for the introduction of the market economy [9, p. 19].

  4. In the beginning of the Arduous March, Kim Jong-Il [19, p. 234] said on 1 January 1997 “Our people have experienced really hard trials during the three years of the Arduous March.” Tong Thae-Gwan [47] who gave an outline of the Arduous March as a member of the editorial desk of Rodong Sinmun, put the Arduous March as six years, so the period of the Arduous March is 1995–2000.


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This work was supported by the JSPS KAKENHI grant numbers JP18H00822, JP19H00583, and JP20H01470.

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Miyamoto, S. Why Is the Political Regime of North Korea Tough? Comparison with the Market Economization of China, Vietnam, and Cuba. East Asia 40, 133–149 (2023).

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