Abstract

Abstract:

Following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in December 2011, Kim Jong Un assumed power and gradually transformed the policymaking environment in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). While some analysts expected the young and inexperienced leader to face greater hardship than his father in managing the country, in this article I argue that Kim Jong Un faced an easier transition. Kim Jong Un inherited an economy, inter-Korean relationship, and strategic landscape in foreign affairs in a relatively favorable position relative to his father's formal succession. From this position of strength, Kim Jong Un has centralized governance in the Korean Workers' Party (KWP) and his personal leadership. Drawing on internal documents and media, I show that inter-institutional debate previously observable between the party, military, and government has largely vanished under Kim Jong Un and the political roles of the military and government have receded from a comprehensive set of national policy questions.

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