Jasper Becker, Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

In Rogue Regime: The Continuing Threat of North Korea, journalist Jasper Becker explains the American concern over the increasingly unpredictable North Korean regime obtaining nuclear weapons by identifying Kim Jong-Il’s inability to adapt to a shifting international political climate.  By interviewing young refugees fleeing from the struggling, famished nation, Becker explores Kim’s process of decision making, primarily focusing on the legacy of Kim Il-Sung and the adaptation of the ideology of Juche (self-reliance) in a modern context. Kim Jong-Il attempted to maintain the industrial state that his father had created, and had difficulty adapting to the collapse of communism around the world.  Further, Becker explicitly labels Kim as a particularly “evil” ruler who became more isolated from the rest of the world and felt driven to obtain a nuclear arsenal. Becker finds that a forceful “regime change” in North Korea would only cause more civilians to suffer. Becker concedes that since North Korea has nuclear weapons, it is increasingly difficult to hold the regime accountable. Instead, Becker suggests that the only way to force the regime to change is by empowering the increasingly discontented North Korean population, as well as encouraging external pressure from neighbors held hostage by the nuclear North Korean state.

Jake Schlackman