Kim, Byung-yeon, Unveiling the North Korean Economy: Collapse and Transition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 978-1107183797
Lots of Meat and Missed Opportunities
by Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein (University of Pennsylvania)
Unveiling the North Korean Economy delivers only partially on the promise of its title. The book is largely a synthesis and overview of studies of the North Korean economy since 2000. As an overview of the scholarly literature and empirical studies of the North Korean market economy, it is highly useful. University instructors will find it handy to assign specific chapters for classes. More seasoned students of the North Korean economy will plunge into the rich content of data printed in the book, twisting and turning the tables of survey results, pondering what they say about the bigger picture.
Ultimately, however, the book misses an opportunity to take the debate forward. Its narrative is often stuck in a time when the North Korean market economy itself was a novelty, and op-ed writers made bold predictions that the market’s impacts on the jangmadang generation would soon lead to the demise of the North Korean regime.