This paper examines changes in the in the composition of the North Korean elite from 1997 to 2012, a particularly tumultuous period in the history of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Specifically, the paper assesses the changing composition of the leadership networks around both Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un, using data from the entourages that accompanied the great leaders on their “on the spot guidance” inspection tours. The paper finds that there have been significant changes in the leadership elite since the succession of Kim Jong Un. The paper offers some observations regarding the implications these changes have on the receptivity of the regime to a normalization of relations with the West and future economic and political reform.

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