Leading a largely closed-off society and rarely engaging with foreign leaders, Kim Jong-un is one of the most misunderstood leaders in the world. Is Kim a rational actor? Does he have a long-term strategy for North Korea? What resources does Kim have at his disposal and how does he achieve his objectives? David Shin’s new book, Kim Jong-un's Strategy for Survival: A Method to Madness, provides answers to these questions and more. The book focuses on four cases that reveal North Korea’s survival strategy: the 2013 nuclear crisis, the 2015 landmine incident, the 2017 nuclear crisis, and the 2018 charm offensive. Shin argues that Kim Jong-un is far from a madman and, like the two Kims before him, has consistently been underestimated.
In this episode of the China in the World podcast, Paul Haenle speaks with David Shin, Associate Professor and Deputy Chair of the National Intelligence University (NIU), about his new book. The discussion covers Kim Jong-un’s strategy and tactics in 2017 and 2018, gauges the future of U.S.-DPRK relations, and applies the book’s finding to assess the Biden administration’s early approach toward North Korea.