In the name of the father, son, and grandson: succession patterns and the Kim dynasty

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This paper seeks to understand North Korea’s Kim Il Sung to Kim Jong Il and Kim
Jong Il to Kim Jong Un’s hereditary transition by proposing a comparative analysis of several dictatorship families. The paper utilizes totalitarian successions in Nicaragua with García and Debayle, in Haiti with the Duvalier family, in Syria with the al-Assads, in Azerbaijan with the Aliyevs, in Congo with the Kabilas in order to draw parallels and difference with the North Korea. Eventually, North Korea’s control over information and its management of myths are highlighted as factors that have enabled the country’s hereditary transition, though new patterns of domestic governance might lead to a different political environment over the Korean peninsula.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-68
Number of pages45
JournalJournal of Northeast Asian history
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • North Korea, Kim Jong Un, hereditary successions, political families, dictatorship, Kim Jong Il

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