- Publisher: Vintage
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847922368
- ISBN-13: 978-1847922366
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,372,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
If I could only read two recent books on this subject, I would choose this one and Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. Mr. Cha's book is excellent from a foreign policy and historical standpoint, giving an unbiased history of the regime, its neighbors, and attempts to engage North Korea's leaders in dialogue. At the end Mr. Cha summarizes his gut feelings about what the regime really wants, and exposes its vulnerabilities. While his conclusions are rather grim, I think they are realistic, unlike the writings of newspaper and television pundits that we are exposed to every day. Some things I particularly liked were:
-- his observations from interactions with North Korean diplomats, sometimes when they (not the writer) were under influence of alcohol
-- his description of the mistakes made by Kim #2
-- his analysis of China's stance, how and why it continues to accommodate the Kim Dynasty.
-- his (too lengthy) descriptions of American attempts to negotiate, and the way he shows that all recent administrations have tried to engage North Korea
-- his appreciation of the ideological basis of the regime's rule (read Barbara Demick to get more info about motivations)
-- the writer did not neglect human rights issues.
The lay reader will want to skim some sections because the writer has actually included too much information. However the main value of the book is that the writer has information both from reading and from direct experience, his analysis is professional, and has a good feel for the country and its people.
I recommend this book. It is both interesting and informative.
Schoolchildren there learn conjugations by reciting 'We killed Americans,' 'We are killing Americans,' 'We will kill Americans.' Math is similarly learned via word problems that involve calculating the number of dead American soldiers. Per capita gross national income has fallen from $1,160 in 1990 to $960 in 2009. Three in 90,000 own their own car, 10% have refrigerators. Most all are vegetarians, and not by choice - beef is eaten once/year by the average N.K. citizen. The average 7-year-old boy is 8" shorter and 22 lobs lighter than his S.K. counterpart. Most defectors (now 21,000) do so for economic reasons, and 75% say they retain affection for their 'Great Leader' I, II, and III.
Forget about an Arab Spring in N.K., says Cha. And there won't be a Chinese-style modernization either - it has no credible, competent, charismatic leader such as Deng Xiaoping waiting in the wings.
N.K. originally had a considerable economic advantage over S.K., thanks to the Japanese occupiers; most of that, however, was leveled by U.S. bombing during the Korean War. Moscow and Beijing then helped it rebuild (primarily to win N.K. allegiance when Moscow and Beijing were competing), but Moscow backed out after the first three year plan when it saw N.K. focusing on heavy industry and refusing to engage in foreign trade to fill in other areas. (S.K. helped make the divorce permanent by later granting Moscow a $3 billion loan as part of reconciliation; Moscow had been providing oil at one-fourth of market price.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While I read three books about North Korea back-to-back, this one was notably different from the other two I read. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Haley Keller
Was recommended this book by a few of my friends. I find this book incredibly easy to read and even fun even though it packs in a lot of information. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Carolyn
The author tends to repeat himself a bit, in what is oherwise a well written book. The main body of the work deals with N Korea, and how it got the way it is today. Read morePublished 4 months ago by David Roe
I have not read the book. I just looked at the title and guessing whats it is all about.
I wander if this Korean American guy who calls himself a North Korea expert have ever... Read more
The Impossible State starts off with the surprising history of the Kim family and then details the various ways this state has defied all odds by not being overthrown by its own... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jamie Wilborn
after spending 22 years in the military and traveling over much of the world,i still cannot believe that people would live under rules from a few dictators.Published 8 months ago by kensmith
Victor Cha’s The Impossible State is an exhaustively researched, provocative examination of the social, economic, and political realities of North Korea. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Barry
This book was well research. It's incredible that a country that has been so poorly run for so many years is still surviving. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer