Bibliography on Party Politics in NORTH KOREA, 1950-1962

Jon O. Schwestka

The study of party politics in North Korea has benefited greatly, it seems, from the Korean armed conflict and the concern of Western scholars for understanding similarities and variations in international communism. Consequently, there is more literature on North Korean party politics and of a better quality than is typical of nations of relative import in world politics. The Korean Workers' Party has been studied largely as an institution synonymous with the North Korean government, rather than as a conceptually and behaviorally distinct institution within the North Korean system. Post-war literature such as Robert A. Scalapino's North Korea Today and Rudolph's North Korea's Political and Economic Structure exemplify the scholarly emphasis on the emergence of the state of North Korea.

But the great bulk of the literature dealing with North Korea and the Korean Workers' Party has resulted from studies of communist systems throughout the world. Glenn D. Paige's "Korea," in Black and Thornton (eds.), Communism and Revolution: The Strategic Use of Violence, Paige's "North Korea and Sino-Soviet Behavior," in Barnett, ed., Communist Strategies in Asia, and Chong-sik Lee's "Stalinism in the East," in Scalapino, ed., The Communist Revolution in Asia: Tactics, Goals, and Achievements are examples which focus on North Korea from the voluminous body of literature dealing with communist states.

One should note that the aforementioned are all English language sources and thereby observe the limitations of our literature search. As a result of a lack of Korean language capability on the part of the indexer, we decided to limit the indexing to English language documents. However, valuable Korean sources were included for retrieval. Many important articles from North Korean government publications such as Formation and Growth of the Socialist Intellectuals in North Korea and On Party Leadership, Training, and Policy Implementation in North Korea have been translated from the original Korean into English and made available at minimal cost by the U.S. government. Moreover, works such as Ryu Hun's Study of North Korea have been produced in South Korea and published in English. Apart from their viewpoint, the value of these sources cannot be overestimated.

Professor Glenn D. Paige offered his assistance by suggesting possible sources of information about North Korean party politics. And Dr. Hesung Koh of the Human Relations Area Files suggested citations from her bibliography of Korea.

Material Processed Into ICPP Information Files

After completion of the bibliographic search and evaluation of the literature with respect to its relevance, 649 pages were indexed from 31 documents for inclusion in the ICPP files. Most of the code categories were employed in the indexing process, as can be seen upon examination of the table of indexing codes, and those which were not, are instructive in their omission.

Subject matter dealing with the "history of the party" (code 140) and the "party system" (850) accounts for 14.6% of the total codes assigned. The fact that the "party leaders and officials" (360) account for 21% of the pages indexed attests to the importance of Kim Il-Sung in the party politics of North Korea. Salient features of the Korean Workers' Party are reflected in the relatively frequent use of other codes such as "party discipline" (250), "party propaganda" (240), "international party system" (880), "party workers and activists" (330), and "issue orientation" (530).

The distribution of indexing codes by major categories reflects the high usage of some specific codes under the major headings. Thus, we find "party composition" (codes 3--) and "party activities" (codes 2--) used most often among the nine general categories. The third most frequent category, however, is "party organization" (4--), which achieves its place by a wider usage of its specific subcodes, providing somewhat more variety in the information indexed with this category of codes and contributing materially to our ability to score the KWP on indicators of its "internal organization."

Some Observations on the State of the Literature

Examination of the table of indexing codes reveals deficiencies that exist in the literature about North Korean party politics. There is an overwhelming shortage of theoretical/propositional material on which improved theories of party politics must be built; only six pages of the literature in the file are devoted to propositions or theory about parties. Unfortunately, this paucity of theory on North Korean party politics may simply reflect a more generalized need for theory about party politics.

It is necessary to qualify our comments on the substantive needs of North Korean party research. While information about a given country's party politics is a function of the intellectual foci adopted by scholars, it is also a function of the phenomena under study. That is, the lack of coding categories such as "conducts election campaigns" (210), "religious environment" (730), and "interparty competition" (830) is as characteristic of the communist dictatorship in North Korea as the frequent use of "party leader" (360) and "party discipline" (250).

Our evaluation of the literature can benefit from analyzing the quality of individual documents, as shown in the table of data quality codes. The table is self-explanatory, but a few comments on the quality of North Korean party politics literature may be in order.

Much of the literature seems to be based on firsthand observation. Almost half of the documents were published either in North Korea or in the Far East; almost half were translated from Korean; and more than half of the authors were either North Koreans or South Koreans. The distribution of authors' credentials is deceptive, however, for it is impossible to determine the background of many North Korean authors.

The greatest shortcoming of the documents is methodological. None employ anything approaching a systematic theory and few state their propositions explicitly. The quantitative analyses seldom go beyond the simple reporting of raw data or percentages. In the documents included in the ICPP files no attempts are made to employ any measures of correlation which may be a function of the data (or lack thereof). And finally, the documents mainly reflect case studies. The methodological needs of North Korean party research require more comparative analyses with explicit theoretical frameworks that attempt to test explicit propositions when the data are available.

Finally, it should be noted that the indexers judged the quality of the documents to be generally high. Many of the documents are detailed descriptive studies providing the kind of information sought in this project. While the documents can be criticized for their methodology, they generally meet the information needs of a useful data retrieval system. The researcher employing documents from this bibliography should find much information describing party politics in North Korea and, despite some identifiable shortcomings in substantive focus and methodology, these documents should be useful in understanding North Korean party politics.