Despite the quantity of literature on North Korea currently available, the quality has not been very satisfactory. A major reason for this is that North Korean studies in South Korea have been and continue to be dominated by political scientists, whose research suffers from serious theoretical, ideological, and methodological biases—anticommunist sentiment, the myth of North Korean particularism, the totalitarian assumption, and elitist biases. Studies of North Korea require more potent tools of analysis capable of accounting for the sort of visible and dynamic change likely to accompany that nation's current economic deterioration. This study presents such an alternative approach, drawing on recent interviews with defectors and on content analysis of North Korean novels to build a comparative sociological account that argues there is a widening gap between official state ideals and the realities of daily life in that society. Illuminating those features that conflict with and deviate from the endorsed ideals, it shows how these are not unique to North Korea, but rather general features of socialist states as a whole.