North Korea

State of Paranoia

Paul French


A gripping and provocative account of one of the world’s most secretive countries.
'An admirably clear and calm survey of one of the hardest countries in the world to report on.'
The Guardian

North Korea continues to make headlines, arousing curiosity and fear in equal measure. The world’s most secretive nuclear power, it still has Gulag-style prison camps, allows no access to the Internet and bans its people from talking to foreigners without official approval.

In this remarkable and eye-opening book, internationally best-selling author Paul French examines in forensic detail the history and politics of North Korea, Pyongyang’s complex relations with South Korea, Japan, China and America, and the implications of Kim Jong-un’s increasingly belligerent leadership following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.

As an already unstable North Korea grows ever more unpredictable, antagonizing enemies and allies alike, North Korea: State of Paranoia delivers a provocative and frightening account of a potentially explosive nuclear tripwire.

Author Bio

Born in London and educated there and in Glasgow, Paul French has lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. As a leading expert on North Korea he is a widely published analyst and commentator on Asia and has written a number of books dealing with China's pre-1949 history, Asian politics and current affairs. His previous books include a history of North Korea, a biography of Shanghai adman and adventurer Carl Crow, and a history of foreign correspondents in China. Paul was awarded the 2013 Edgar for best fact crime for his international best-seller Midnight in Peking.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword: The Myth and the Reality of the State of Paranoia
  • Introduction: The Paranoid Peninsula
  • Part I: The Juche Nation: Beloved Leaders, Brilliant Thoughts, Power Cuts and Empty Shelves
    • 1. A Normal Day in Pyongyang
    • 2. The Juche State: Political Theory in North Korea
    • 3. The Revolutionary Dynasty: Leadership in North Korea
  • Part II: The Economics of North Korea: Chollima, Speed Battles, Collapse and Famine
    • 4. Economics Pyongyang Style: Command and Control
    • 5. The Worst of Times: Food, Famine and the Arduous March
    • 6. The Start of a Sort of Reform: Change and Regime Survival
    • 7. The Reality of Reform: A Case Study of Sinuiju
  • Part III: Diplomacy and Military: Foreign Relations, Nuclear Crisis and Self-Defence
    • 8. Don't Poke the Snake: US-DPRK relations
    • 9. Nuclear Ambitions Revealed: Bluster, Brinkmanship or Battle?
    • 10. 'Military First' Emerges
  • Part IV: Change, Collapse and Reunification
    • 11. One Korea: The Dream of Reunification
    • 12. Kim3: The Dynasty Continues
    • 13. How Will the Story End?
  • Conclusion: Still the World's Most Dangerous Tripwire


'An admirably clear and calm survey of one of the hardest countries in the world to report on.'
The Guardian

'Highly readable ... a solid overview of the country’s modern history and how it became a failed state.'
Wall Street Journal

'Fascinating ... highly readable.'
Daily Telegraph

'An excellent introduction to the history and politics of North Korea.'
Hyeonseo Lee, North Korean defector

'Paul French writes with wit, eloquence and rare clarity about the complicated history of North Korea.'
Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea

'If much reporting on North Korea is hysterical, French has gone the other way ... [a book] written with a brisk confidence.'
Financial Times

`This is the most accessible starting point for anyone wanting to understand the hermit kingdom.'
Kerry Brown, professor and director, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney

'This clear-eyed overview to North Korea’s modern history is packed full of fascinating detail.'
Louisa Lim, Beijing correspondent, NPR


Publication Date: 15 August 2015
488 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781783605736
Hardback: 9781780329482
eBook ePub 2nd Edition: 9781783606832
eBook PDF 2nd Edition: 9781783607181
eBook Kindle 2nd Edition: 9781783606825

Previous Editions: Paperback 1st Edition: 9781780329475
eBook ePub 1st Edition: 9781780329505
eBook PDF 1st Edition: 9781780329499
eBook Kindle 1st Edition: 9781780329512

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.