North Korean Strategic Culture in Post-Cold War Era: Identifying the Strategic Culture Behind North Korea’s Policy Making

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This paper will examine the factors that make North Korea’s strategic behaviour distinct in nature from other states and whether it “qualifies” to have its own strategic culture. Specifically, it will look the “uniqueness” of how North Korea’s ways of utilising its military-diplomacy in order to achieve its political ends. The military-centric regime of North Korea is often known for its peculiar politico-military nature. Pyongyang repeatedly exercises its grand strategic aims through the game of brinkmanship and blaring out coercive messages, while reacting almost eccentrically to anything that they perceive as a threat to their regime. Furthermore, their isolationist nature also adds to the complexity which exacerbates the image of North Korea’s regime as incomprehensible, unpredictable and dangerous. However, their strong sense of insecurity seems to be what justifies their behaviour. This paper will study North Korea’s strategic decision making process through the concepts analysed by Alistair I. Johnson’s theory of strategic culture (1995). Through this, the study will be able to test whether a distinct North Korean strategic culture exists. While North Korea’s strategic ends (ensuring security of the state) are no different to that of other states, this study aims to shed light on how Pyongyang “thinks” and what it values as means of achieving their security.


Keywords: North Korea, Strategic Concepts, Strategic Culture, Military, International Relations, Politics
Stream: Nations, Nationalism, Communities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Mr Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi

PhD Candidate, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy
Canberra, ACT, Australia

Leo is starting his PhD candidacy at the University of New South Wales – Australian Defence Force Academy. Leo received his Master of Arts degree at the Graduate School of Strategic and Defence at the Australian National University. Since then Leo has worked at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Tokyo as an intern and has also worked as a Research Associate at the International Crisis Group Seoul Office for two years. Leo was also a recipient of the Korea Foundation Language Training Fellowship in 2006 where he pursued his Korean language studies in Seoul for 12 months. Currently Leo is a visiting researcher at the Kyungnam University Institute of Far East Studies, undertaking research to prepare for his PhD dissertation. Leo is a native speaker of Japanese and English, as well as fluent command of Korean and some Chinese Mandarin.

Ref: D08P0223