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Rashomon in North Korea? Comparing Northeast Asian approaches


The DPRK’s progressive nuclearization has evoked different responses in its Northeast Asian neighbors. A comparison across Japan, South Korea, and China offers a useful arena for addressing important debates in comparative and international politics. The three states differ with regards to their political systems and classical power disparities. The article distills general trends in their approach in light of—and sometimes in spite of—these differences. First, notwithstanding differences in regime type, there has been a shared secular trend away from positive inducements. Second, the precise mix of inducements differed significantly across all three cases in tandem with their domestic constraints and levels of political polarization. Third, classical neorealist drivers of international behavior have been rather secondary for explaining approaches to the DPRK’s nuclearization. Finally, the panoply of strategies spanning the positive and negative spectrum has failed to deliver desired objectives. This outcome highlights the centrality of the domestic regime type of target states to the effectiveness of inducements.

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