How combustible is the Korean crisis? Very, is the only sensible answer. In 1994, the united states came close to launching a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. Since then perhaps three million have died of starvation in the North, a disaster worse than Pol Pot's Cambodia. North Korea's leader Kim Jong-II is closer than ever to developing an inter-continental ballistic missile and an armoury of nuclear weapons. A perpetual merry go-round of international diplomacy has not brought peace within sight, despite the high expectations raised by the south's 'Sunshine Policy'. South Korea, arguably the greatest economic and political success story in Asia, confronts its evil twin in an extraordinary and little-understood drama. Managing this crisis has become the top priority for the United States and its greatest challenge. Jasper Becker reveals the historical roots of the current conflict and offers straightforward explanations of the motives and strategy of the major players. He sheds light on North Korea's continuing survival and lays out the rationale behind the often seemingly strange and bizarre policies pursued by North and South - and their larger neighbours. Providing crucial context for a little-understood region, this highly accessible and compact volume will be a valuable guide for all readers.