At an often-stressful time in global affairs, and with the very idea of the ‘international community’ seemingly under threat, it can be beneficial to look at the 'global order’ from its disorderly fringes. Andray Abrahamian
’s North Korea and Myanmar: Divergent Paths
(McFarland, 2018) does precisely this, comparing and contrasting North Korea’s and Myanmar’s long careers as ‘pariah’ states during the 20th and 21st centuries, and offering a convincing account of how one – Myanmar – has to some extent managed to emerge from its ‘pariah’ position in recent years, whilst the other – North Korea – remains largely excluded, whatever recent signs of detente across the 38th parallel.
Abrahamian's work on each place is based on years of firsthand experience in these ‘outposts of tyranny’, as former-US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice dubbed them in 2005 (p. 2), and he is thus able to offer us vital context for both the latest warming in inter-Korean relations and Myanmar's recent slide back into partial outcast status amidst the horrifying Rohingya crisis. For anyone interested in these countries or in the very idea of an international community of nations, this is a compelling read.
Ed Pulford is a postdoctoral researcher at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.