“Drawing upon his unique and deep academic work and policy experience, Victor Cha has produced one of the most astute, insightful, and lucid texts on North Korea. Simply put, this book is a must-read for all—experts and casual observers alike—interested in developments on the Korean Peninsula.” —MARK LIPPERT, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea and Senior Advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies
In The Impossible State, seasoned international-policy expert and lauded scholar Victor Cha pulls back the curtain on provocative, isolationist North Korea, providing our best look yet at its history and the rise of the Kim family dynasty and the obsessive personality cult that empowers them. Cha illuminates the repressive regime’s complex economy and culture, its appalling record of human rights abuses, and its belligerent relationship with the United States, and analyzes the regime’s major security issues—from the seemingly endless war with its southern neighbor to its frightening nuclear ambitions—all in light of the destabilizing effects of Kim Jong-il’s death and the transition of power to his unpredictable heir.
Ultimately, this engagingly written, authoritative, and highly accessible history warns of a regime that might be closer to its end than many might think—a political collapse for which America and its allies may be woefully unprepared.
Victor Cha served in the White House as Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007. He currently holds the D. S. Song-KF Chair in Government and Asian Studies at Georgetown University and is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
“An up-close, insightful portrait. . . . The Impossible State is a clearheaded, bold examination of North Korea and its future.” — Washington Post
“Cha demonstrates an intimate familiarity with the regime’s contradictions. . . . The thesis is clear: the world’s most closed-off state needs to open up to survive, but breaking its hermetic seal may well precipitate its demise.” — The New Yorker
“A meaty, fast-paced portrait of North Korean society, economy, politics, and foreign policy by an expert who has studied the regime as a scholar and interacted with its officials.” — Foreign Affairs