May 19, 2024
Interviews

Armstrong: North Korea not isolationist, follows self-determination principle

Scholar compares North to 1980s-era Eastern Europe, says government has become an obstacle to people’s livelihoods

North Korea's policy is not isolationism, but it does seek to control very carefully the degree and the kind of contact it has with the outside world.

So says Charles Armstrong, a leading historian at the Department of History at Columbia University. Armstrong, who has written extensively on North Korea's external relations through his book Tyranny of the Weak: North Korean and the World, 1950-1990, told NK News that North Korea has extensive relations with other communist countries and, since the 1970s, has expanded its relations to Third World countries. He contrasted this with other countries that have been cut off, such as Burma/Myanmar or Albania, and said that, at the same time, the North Korean state very carefully monitors these connections so that it can maintain control. This "self-determination principle" is behind the Juche ideology.

Become a member for less than $4 per week.

  • Unlimited access to all of NK News: reporting, investigations, analysis
  • The NK News Daily Update, an email newsletter to keep you in the loop
  • Searchable archive of all content, photo galleries, special columns
  • Contact NK News reporters with tips or requests for reporting
Get unlimited access to all NK News content, including original reporting, investigations, and analyses by our team of DPRK experts.
Subscribe now

All major cards accepted. No commitments – you can cancel any time.