In this essay, I address the persistence of authoritarian regimes in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Burma (Myanmar) against expectations. Contacts welcome here.
The persistence of authoritarian regimes in East and Southeast Asia presents important problems to political theory. Most of these authoritarian regimes are puzzling because they remain in power despite significant economic growth—most notably in the case of China, the regional titan. However, a number of others are puzzling for the opposite reason: they persist despite what would seem to be very obvious reasons for ending self-imposed isolation and opening up their often impoverished economies. Burma has been, and North Korea remains, prime examples of such. Though very different from each other, these two cases demonstrate important shortcomings of many predictions made about them and about the region. Continue reading