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Dynamics of the Inner Elite in Dictatorships: Evidence from North Korea

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How does the circle of inner elites evolve over time in dictatorships? We draw on theories of authoritarian power-sharing to shed light on the evolution of politics in North Korea. Given challenges in collecting individual-level data in this context, we employ web-scraping techniques that capture inspection visits by the dictator as reported by state-run media to assemble network data on elite public co-occurrences. We test the durability of this network since Kim Jong-un's rise to power in December 2011 to find suggestive evidence of elite purging. Our findings contribute to the broader literature on authoritarian elite dynamics and to subnational studies on power-sharing in communist states. Importantly, our approach helps bring the study of North Korean politics more firmly in the mainstream of political science inquiry.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2020

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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