December 10, 2022

Little Man Syndrome: The Height Of North Korea’s Failure

Book Review: A Socioeconomic History of North Korea

James Pearson wrote an article for The Diplomat in 2010 which sought to contradict what he saw as the widespread – yet, he argued, unjustified - notion that North Korea is a ‘failed state’, that it has not been able to provide its citizens with answers to their basic needs. For those who weren’t fully convinced by Pearson, the relatively recent Socioeconomic History of North Korea, by Daniel Schwekendiek, will offer some appeal.

The young author’s name may not be the easiest to pronounce, but his book makes for an innovative, informative and fascinating read – albeit perhaps a bit on the technical side. Schwekendiek describes a country where the political leadership has managed to survive a remarkable series of negative events, but has inevitably failed its own citizens. This failure is described from three different chapters, dedicated to social, economic and anthropometric perspectives.