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Common-Pool Resource Depletion and Dictatorship

Authors
Ward, PeterLankov, AndreiKim, Jiyoung
Issue Date
Mar-2022
Publisher
UNIV CALIFORNIA PRESS
Keywords
fisheries; marketization; North Korea; common-pool resources; enmeshed dependence
Citation
COMMUNIST AND POST-COMMUNIST STUDIES, v.55, no.1, pp.183 - 204
Journal Title
COMMUNIST AND POST-COMMUNIST STUDIES
Volume
55
Number
1
Start Page
183
End Page
204
URI
http://scholarworks.bwise.kr/ssu/handle/2018.sw.ssu/42122
DOI
10.1525/j.postcomstud.2022.55.1.183
ISSN
0967-067X
Abstract
This article seeks to explain the dynamics of resource depletion in North Korea's fishery. We utilize insights from the common-pool resource (CPR) literature and show how theories from comparative politics that explain why states sometimes do not formalize property rights but prefer their informal exercise can be fruitfully applied to North Korea's fishery. Utilizing a process tracing methodology, we demonstrate that the North Korean state possesses the necessary capacity to limit resource depletion, but has largely failed to do so. We argue that broad access to the commons maintains relations of enmeshed dependence between the dictator and those utilizing the fishery, balancing regime social control concerns with the party-state's need for revenue. Further, in recent times, foreign actors have been allowed into the sector, providing a lucrative source of revenue without creating issues for internal control. We consider the alternative explanation that the North Korean state lacks the capacity to prevent CPR depletion, but demonstrate its implausibility given the preponderance of available evidence, not least the response of the regime in Pyongyang to the COVID-19 pandemic, where it has demonstrated considerable capacity to control the country's fishing fleet.
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