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Reinterpreting the (Relatively) Immutable Features of the North Korean Strategic Culture


This chapter distinguishes between not only ideational and material aspects of strategic culture but also innovatively differentiates between those characteristics of a country's strategic culture that are immutable versus those that can change over time. It argues that North Korea's strategic culture was created by a Soviet-style cult of personality campaign that employed the narrative of Kim Il-sung as a returning hero of national liberation, that all other national myths and symbols revolve around this cult of personality, and that the current leader of North Korea derives his legitimacy from sustaining and propagating this cult of personality. The author provides a summary of the strengths and weaknesses in the substantial strategic culture literature on North Korea, and finds that in some cases elements of that literature fail to account for how changes in leadership characteristics may have impacted its foundational strategic cultural norms.

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Full Citation:

Sin, Steve S. 2023. “Reinterpreting the (Relatively) Immutable Features of the North Korean Strategic Culture.” In Routledge Handbook of Strategic Culture, eds. Kerry M Kartchner, Briana D Bowen, and Jeannie L Johnson. London: Routledge.

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