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Monday, June 06, 2005

North Korean factionalism

As a supplement to my translation of Han Kyu-han's piece on North Korea in the 1950s, I've just discovered that Andrei Lankov had a recent article in the Korea Times on factions in North Korea. It gives a potted overview of the four main factions among the Korean communists of the late 1940s and early 1950s: 'domestic' (국내파), 'Yanan' (연안파), 'Soviet' (소련파) and '[Manchurian] guerilla' (만주파).

I think Lankov's suggestion that there is something endemic about Korean factionalism is a little misleading (although of course factionalism in various forms has been an important part of Korean history in a number of different contexts). The merit of Han Kyu-han's article (and the series in general) is that he looks at some of the underlying causes behind the factional conflict that lasted into the 1950s. That is, both conflicts over what was the appropriate accumulation strategy in the post-Korean War period, and the tensions caused by international dimension of Korea's division (ie the imperialist rivalry between the US and the USSR) and the North Korean leaderhip's relationship with its sponsor. Ultimately, as in any capitalist society, divisions develop within the ruling class over how to manage the economy and how to relate to the rest of the world, and these divisions are clearly spurred on by economic crises, which are definitely endemic to all capitalist societies.


At June 07, 2005 12:24 AM, Anonymous ecophil said...

I just happened to visit your blog,
You must not be Korean, are you, but your korean is fantastic!
I am Korean, stuyding in UK, hope to see you again (in blog-) ^^*

At June 07, 2005 10:10 AM, Blogger kotaji said...

You're right, I'm not Korean. Thanks for the compliment, but I don't think my Korean is fantastic yet... still working on it.

You're not at SOAS are you? (my university)

At June 08, 2005 11:42 PM, Anonymous ecophil said...

No, I am in Bath


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