Kim Jong Un and the Bomb Cover

Kim Jong Un and the Bomb

Survival and Deterrence in North Korea

Ankit Panda

Oxford University Press, New York, 2020, 416 pages

Book Review published on: August 28, 2020

Kim Jong Un and the Bomb: Survival and Deterrence in North Korea provides a detailed examination of North Korea’s current leader Kim Jong-un and his efforts to develop a long-range nuclear weapon in order to put his country in a position of power at the international level.

Ankit Panda packs a lot of information into the book’s three sections. The first section lays the historical groundwork of North Korea after its founding in 1948 and explains the succession of leaders from Kim Il-sung to Kim Jong-il and eventually to Kim Jong-un. The information includes mention of the Mount Baekdu bloodline and its significance to the survival of the Kim regime. Panda includes this because it gives the reader insight into the other matters that shed light on how Kim Jong-un views his role as the country’s supreme leader and how he might approach decisions about the employment of any nuclear weapons.

The second section lays out all the available information about North Korea’s technical advancements of strategic weapons and nuclear capabilities. It includes specific technical names and dates of all its known strategic weapons tests and capabilities. Panda explains the regional and international impacts of these weapons and how they bring North Korea to the bargaining table with countries such as the United States, Russia, and China. The section’s last chapter examines Kim’s command and control structure and illuminates several dilemmas and likely failure points in the criteria required for Kim to authorize a launch of a nuclear weapon. This is the part of the book that will likely make a reader very nervous about Kim.

The third section examines the current and possible future geopolitical implications, especially with respect to the current administration. Panda presents a number of issues and ideas on how President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un might proceed in the next few years, to include possible actions by China, Japan, and Russia that could alter this delicate balance.

The author has laid out the information in an easy to follow logic and has simplified what could otherwise be very technical data. Panda also added an especially useful appendix that summarizes all the North Korean missile systems.

I highly recommend this book for all military leaders, especially students of strategic studies and for those whose operations include the Pacific Rim area.

Book Review written by: Lt. Col. George Hodge, U.S. Army, Retired, Olathe, Kansas