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Title: Understanding North Korea’s Policy: The Ties Between Weakness and Aggression
Authors: Candido, Trevor
Advisors: Friedberg, Aaron
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: North Korea continues to take military action against its neighbors and develop nuclear weapons despite international condemnation. As a result of its aggressive action and its own policy of isolationist selfreliance, it suffers from a deteriorating economy, widespread hunger and unstable leadership. Still the Kim regime persists in its policy of brinkmanship and provocation, to the confusion of much of the world. In this work I argue that North Korea pursues aggressive and destabilizing policies to serve the dual purpose of distracting from internal weakness, and solving external weakness through coercive bargaining. The first chapter describes diversionary war and coercion theory, and their application to North Korea. The second chapter compares North Korea to its peers, other pariah states, and looks for common weaknesses and strategies. I describe the lessons that North Korea may have learned from each state’s period of reform or collapse. The third chapter examines the history of North Korean aggression and weakness from 1994 to the present. I compare North Korea’s reactions to different periods of US policy and domestic weakness. The conclusion summarizes the findings, and briefly describes policy options for the US and China, noting the currently tense situation on the Korean peninsula.
Extent: 86 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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