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‘Fraternal Socialism': The International Reconstruction of North Korea, 1953–62

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The post-Korean War reconstruction of North Korea was the most ambitious multilateral development project ever undertaken by the socialist countries during the Cold War. It was the first and only time the USSR, China and the Soviet-aligned states of Eastern Europe and Mongolia cooperated economically on such a large-scale venture, and thus the historical high point of ‘international socialist solidarity'. Yet, the strains in the Sino-Soviet relationship were already apparent during the reconstruction effort itself, and North Korea reacted against its overwhelming dependence on foreign assistance with a determined turn towards self-reliance. Ironically, multilateral cooperation on North Korea's reconstruction contributed significantly both to the end of the Sino-Soviet alliance and to North Korea's autarkic development path, which it has pursued until the present time.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Associate Professor of History, Columbia University, Email:

Publication date: May 1, 2005


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