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Book Reviews Korean Communism, 1945-1980: A Reference Guide to the PoliticalSystem. By Dae-Sook Suh. Honolulu, Hawaii: University Press of Hawaii, 1981. xv, 592 pp. $35.00 Nearly forty years have elapsed since the partition of Korea in 1945, and the country remains divided with little or no immediate prospects for reunification. Still, there has been no lessening of the popular desire and the political rhetoric in both halves ofthe country for its reunification. The autism ofthe Korean public and the symbolic manipulation of the reunification issue by the elite notwithstanding, the current reality of Korea is rather bleak. Few regions in the world today are so sharply polarized ideologically, so heavily entrenched militarily, or so intractably divided politically as the two Koreas. This bipolarization of Korea resembles, at a lower level and on a smaller scale, the current relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. A proper and unbiased analysis ofthe Korean political situation is thus one of the first steps in unraveling the ideological, military, and political predicaments besetting the Korean peninsula. Studies that approach Korean politics with professed ideological penchants are relatively numerous, while those that analyze the politics of the two Koreas judiciously and with scholarly objectivity are rare. The present volume by DaeSook Suh, like those he has given us in the past, is of the latter type. Here, Suh has compiled basic reference materials on the North Korean communist political system for the past thirty-five years, from 1945 to 1980. (Theoretically, if not historically, he covers the works of Kim Il Sung from 1930 to 1980). This book includes an annotated bibliography ofthe writings ofKim Il Sung, as well as official data on the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), the Administration Council (AC), the Central Court (CA), and the Central procurator's Office (CPA). Also included are the 1972 Socialist Constitution, the WPK bylaws, and approximately 200 standard terms used in North Korea. However , this volume is more than a mere collection of reference materials and documents on the North Korean political system. In each chapter Suh presents a chronological review of basic documents and changes in various political institutions , personnel registers, constitutional amendments, and party bylaws. In 116BOOK REVIEWS chapters 2, 3, and 4, which cover the WPK, the Supreme People's Assembly, and the Administration Council, respectively, Suh has provided us with additional analyses , including numerous tables and figures. As with Suh's earlier published works, I am once again struck by the painstaking and time-consuming scholarly care the author has devoted to compiling , collating, and analyzing key North Korean political documents and materials. Doubtless, a work of this magnitude must grapple with many difficult, if not impossible, problems. As Suh aptly notes at the outset, one of the most difficult tasks in dealing with North Korean political documents is the question ofveracity, namely, the problem of separating historical fact from political fiction. With little exaggeration, we may say that history in North Korea is in most instances not a record ofpast events, but an "official fiction." This problem is most acute in regard to the treatment ofKim Il Sung. Due to the current worship ofKim in North Korea, North Korean political history is increasingly becoming (if it has not already become) a kind of "Kim Il Sung Story"; Kim's story is history, so to speak. Worse still, in the making and remaking of Kim's biography, published materials have routinely been backdated and otherwise altered to suit Kim's political and psychological needs. Perhaps rightly, Suh asserts that "the writings Kim claims to have done prior to his return to Korea in 1945 were in fact written in the late 1960s or early 1970s" (p. 9). Suh has left a few moot points in this volume. Specifically, he contends that the Great Ten-Point Platform and Declaration was originally signed not by Kim Il Sung, but by O Söngyun and two others (p. 22). In his previous books, Suh simply questioned Kim's authorship ofthis document, but did not categorically identify its signatories (see Suh, The Korean Communist Movement, 1918-1948, 1967, pp. 268-271; and his Documents...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Pages
pp. 115-117
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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