Op-Ed: Economic Performance and Legitimacy in North Korea


Directors Andray and myself have shared our thoughts on North Korea's transition to a somewhat more economic performance-focused source of legitimacy at the Harvard International Review:

...Through our affiliates and our own interaction with investment-seeking arms of the North Korean government, we have noticed that intra-elite competition for investments, with multiple channels backed by different individuals at the highest levels of the North Korean government, has significantly increased in the last two years.

This leads us to speculate that with a leadership transition underway, such competition marks a shift towards increasing reliance on economic performance as a primary source of legitimacy for the North Korean government. This shift is significant as economic development has taken a back seat for the last two decades. If economic growth is to play a greater role in providing legitimacy for North Korea’s government, it will have a lasting impact on their foreign relations...