This article examines daily life in North Korea from the perspectives of recent North Korean defectors from a variety of social backgrounds. The following three questions are explored: how does the individual live from day to day; what tactics does one continuously evolve in order to survive; and, most importantly, what theoretical and methodological frameworks are available to explain the strategies for survival employed by the country's population? Employing the concept of “everyday politics,” this study argues that state-society interactions once constrained by a highly centralized regime, characterized by an emphasis on political and moral motivations, have yielded to more fragmented and autonomous systems strengthened by realization of individual self-interest. In the process, the state and society have reshaped patterns of interaction regarding information flow structures, rules of behavior, and motivations. That is, both the state and society seek coexistence, and the “market” spontaneously developed by the population functions as a shock absorber.

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