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About the book
  • Published: 15 August 2013
  • ISBN: 9780099578659
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 544
  • RRP: $27.99

The Impossible State

North Korea, Past and Future




The definitive account of North Korea - the most closed, frightening, enigmatic country on earth - its veiled past and uncertain future.

The definitive account of North Korea - its veiled past and uncertain future - from former White House adviser and Korea expert Victor Cha

‘We killed Americans.
We are killing Americans.
We will kill Americans.
North Korean schoolchildren conjugating verbs
How did North Korea become The Impossible State, where citizens found humming South Korean pop songs risk being sent to a gulag, and yet a starving populace clings fiercely to its Dear Leader Kim Jong-un? What does the future hold for a regime with terrifying nuclear ambitions and an endless war with its southern counterpart? Former White House adviser and Director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University, Victor Cha, pulls back the curtain on the world’s most isolated country to provide this unprecedented and timely insight into North Korea’s history, present and future.

In the era of the Trump administration and with South Korean relations seemingly on the brink of great change, this authoritative account of the country interweaved with exclusive personal anecdotes offers much-needed answers in an increasingly uncertain political climate. Indeed, Cha warns of a future North Korea for which the Western world may be woefully unprepared. Extensive and fast-paced, The Impossible State is an extraordinarily edifying portrait of the society, economy and foreign policy of the most enigmatic nation-state.

‘Engrossing... It offers perhaps the best recent one-volume account of North Korea’s history, economics and foreign relations’ The Economist

  • Pub date: 15 August 2013
  • ISBN: 9780099578659
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 544
  • RRP: $27.99

About the Author

Victor Cha

Victor Cha is the former Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. He was the U.S. Deputy Head of Delegation for the Six Party Talks, concerned with security risks posed by the North Korean weapons programme. During his role as adviser to the White House he spent time in Pyongyang, and is in a unique position to comment on North Korean affairs. He is currently Professor of Government and Asian Studies and Director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University.


Praise for The Impossible State

“This is a useful book on how much of the outside world sees North Korea, and what North Korea sees of the outside world”

Good Book Guide


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