1st Edition

Origins of the North Korean Garrison State
The People’s Army and the Korean War

ISBN 9780367188139
Published January 3, 2019 by Routledge
249 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

USD $51.95

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Book Description

This book investigates the origins of the North Korean garrison state by examining the development of the Korean People’s Army and the legacies of the Korean War.

Despite its significance, there are very few books on the Korean People’s Army with North Korean primary sources being difficult to access. This book, however, draws on North Korean documents and North Korean veterans’ testimonies, and demonstrates how the Korean People’s Army and the Korean War shaped North Korea into a closed, militarized and xenophobic garrison state and made North Korea seek Juche (Self Reliance) ideology and weapons of mass destruction. This book maintains that the youth and lower classes in North Korea considered the Korean People’s Army as a positive opportunity for upward social mobility. As a result, the North Korean regime secured its legitimacy by establishing a new class of social elites wherein they offered career advancements for persons who had little standing and few opportunities under the preceding Japanese dominated regime. These new elites from poor working and peasant families became the core supporters of the North Korean regime today. In addition, this book argues that, in the aftermath of the Korean War, a culture of victimization was established among North Koreans which allowed Kim Il Sung to use this culture of fear to build and maintain the garrison state. Thus, this work illustrates how the North Korean regime has garnered popular support for the continuation of a militarized state, despite the great hardships the people are suffering.

This book will be of much interest to students of North Korea, the Korean War, Asian politics, Cold War Studies, military and strategic studies, and international history.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Korean People's Army and the North Korean Garrison State

PART 1: Origins of the Korean People's Army

1. Introduction: The Korean People's Army's Invasion of South

2. Three Core Groups of the Korean People's Army

3. The Origins of the Korean People's Army: Kim Il Sung's Vision for the Korean People's Army

4. The Origins of the Korean People's Army: The Soviet Union in the North Korean Society

5. The Origins of the Korean People's Army: The Formation of the Korean People's Army and Initiator Kim Il Sung

6. The Origins of the Korean People's Army: China

PART 2: The Korean People's Army at War and the Legacy of the Korean War

7. The Leadership of the Korean People's Army: The Party-Military Relations and Generalship of the Korean People's Army

8. The Korean People's Army's Performance and the Legacy of the War: The Rise and Fall of the Korean People's Army and the Making of the Garrison State

Conclusion: The Making of the Garrison State

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Youngjun Kim is Professor of National Security at the Korea National Defense University and has a PhD in History from the University of Kansas, USA.


'As the actions and threats of the North Korean military continue to be a cause of global concern, Youngjun Kim gives us an unprecedented and detailed glimpse into the origins and formative years of the Korean People's Army. More than a military history, Origins of the North Korean Garrison State offers a social and cultural context that explains how the North Korean military emerged as the key institution of North Korean society. The "garrison state" created in the late 1940s and early 1950s is in many ways still the North Korea of today. A timely and important book.' -- Charles Armstrong, Columbia University, USA

'Youngjun Kim’s richly detailed examination of the creation and early development of the Korean People’s Army significantly advances our understanding of the formation of the garrison state in North Korea. Drawing on documentary evidence, memoirs, and scholarly literature in multiple languages, Kim presents the KPA as a hybrid of Korean, Soviet, and Chinese elements.' -- Kathryn Weathersby, Korea University, Republic of Korea

'This book is the most comprehensive, authoritative, single-volume work currently available on the making of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and the regime of Kim IL Sung. It is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the foundation of the North Korean regime, the outbreak of the Korean War, the incredible performance of the KPA against ROK Army and U.S. Army in the initial phases of the war, and the continued existence of the hereditary rulers of North Korea. Youngjun Kim’s book enhances our understanding of the nature of the problem we face today with a nuclear armed North Korea. I highly recommend this book.' -- Adrian R. Lewis, University of Kansas, USA

'The military has long been the most important institution in North Korea. It has been the basis of the Kim family’s rule since 1945, it is the 4th largest army in the world (at 1.3 million it is just behind the American military, which is 3rd), and it is the core of the world’s most amazing garrison state. Yet we have had very little scholarly work on it until Youngjun Kim’s new book. Deeply researched, cogent and fascinating, this book will be a standard work for years to come.' -- Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago, USA