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“State Building, Elite Politics, and Population Classification: A Comparative Study of China and North Korea” by Jung-eun Kim and Juan Wang

November 24, 2021 @ 9:00 am 10:00 am JST

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Author: Jung-eun Kim (Heidelberg) and Juan Wang (McGill)

Abstract: What motivates the state to adopt specific types of population classification? Through a comparative historical analysis, this paper explains the differences in the population classification systems of two Communist states, China and North Korea. The population classification of the former manifested its dual mission of ideological struggle and socioeconomic development, which mobilized the population to police each other in achieving both goals. The classification of the latter was to identify enemies of the new state and its leader, and isolate those deemed untrustworthy. The reasons for such differences, we maintain, are that the former had a relatively experienced and independent ruling party to begin the building of a new Communist state, but for the latter, the building of the ruling party and the new state were intertwined and heavily subject to external influences. Population classifications primarily helped the former with issues of state building and the latter power struggle.

Discussants: Stephan Haggard (UCSD) and Peng Peng (Duke) 

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