"One of the most important writers in English
at work today on all of the countries of Northeast Asia-Korea, China, Japan (and Okinawa) ... [His work on North Korea
] has had great influence because of McCormack's insights into North Korean thinking, his refusal to be drawn into Washington's ill-informed cliches about North Korea, and his very powerful historical perspective... McCormack's voice needs to be heard as the U.S once again moves militarily into an area it deeply misunderstands and where resentments against it have festered throughout the Cold War."
North Korea seems impenetrable to outsiders, a bizarre, Stalinist sideshow and relic guerrilla state that defies explanation. For Washington, North Korea is a fully paid-up member of George Bush’s “axis of evil,” involved in a dangerous game of nuclear brinksmanship since last October. In this timely book, McCormack shows how decisive the founding myths and national identity forged through Korea’s armed resistance to a brutal Japanese colonialism are, and how hardened North Korea
has become over half a century of Cold War. He shows that at the heart of the Korean crisis is the role of Japan where the North Korean admission of having abducted Japanese citizens has created something of a right-wing, nationalist backlash in a country that itself once abducted thousands of Koreans and almost sixty years later has yet to fully apologize for its acts. A foreign policy satellite of the United States, Japan is now showing signs of becoming more militarily independent, wanting to reassert its old role as a regional hegemon. Permeated by so many ills, North Korea —paranoid, insecure, and ravaged by famine—is in a vice with few cards in its pack. The nuclear one has been its joker for at least a decade.