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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

In this blog, we report on developments in and around North Korea, including the broader security setting and political, economic, and social change in the country.

Recent Posts

DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies on the Shin Case (aka “Give ‘em enough rope”)

by | January 23rd, 2015 | 06:13 am

In the interest of being, as they say over at Fox News, “fair and balanced,” today we present the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies statement on the Shin Dong-hyuk case. It is an interesting perspective which I believe merits wide circulation. To paraphrase, “we resolutely deny that we have any homosexuals in our country, but […]

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The Case Against—and For—Shin Dong-hyuk

by | January 22nd, 2015 | 10:02 am

As the drama unfolded at the UN over the Commission of Inquiry report, the North Korean government took particular aim at one of the refugees who had testified before the Commission: Shin Dong-hyuk. Shin’s case had been brought to life through Blaine Harden’s powerful Escape from Camp 14. The book had strong impact, and was […]

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Haass vs. Schake on North Korea Policy

by | January 22nd, 2015 | 07:00 am

This blog welcomes informed debate on US policy toward North Korea, and The Diplomat’s Joseph Bosco reminded us of one we should replay. In late December, Richard Haass, with long policy experience in the Middle East and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a piece on North Korea policy on the Wall […]

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How Has the Commodity Bust Affected North Korea’s Trade Balance? (Part 2)

by | January 21st, 2015 | 07:00 am

Yesterday, I presented a simple exercise to measure to what degree deteriorating global market prices for iron ore and anthracite have affected North Korea’s trade balance, given about half of the country’s exports come from these commodities. My rough guess is that North Korea will forego upwards of half a billion dollars in export revenue […]

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How Has the Commodity Bust Affected North Korea’s Trade Balance? (Part 1)

by | January 20th, 2015 | 07:00 am

While the plunge in the price of crude oil has grabbed headlines for months, it overshadows the longer running, albeit interrelated, deterioration in global commodities prices more broadly. Everything from metals and ores, coal, and even food has been steadily declining in value for years. North Korea is heavily reliant on commodities such as anthracite […]

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Again, Syria

by | January 19th, 2015 | 07:00 am

Der Spiegel has published an explosive new expose on Syria’s nuclear program that has not gotten the attention it deserves. The report reopens long-standing questions about the Syria-North Korea relationship. After the Israeli bombing of the Kibar site in September 2007, Syria made every effort to make sure that no inferences could be drawn about […]

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Al-Jazeera’s “Hidden State: Inside North Korea”

by | January 18th, 2015 | 09:17 pm

We are sometimes puzzled why North Korea grants access to foreign journalists, only to have them do what any self-respecting journalist would do: report what they see. This includes both the restraints on production in North Korea, the bizarre–and similarly constrained–responses of North Koreans to questions, and the necessity of reaching beyond North Korean footage […]

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Song Sang-ho on Cyber Issues on the Korean Peninsula

by | January 17th, 2015 | 07:00 am

As our post on cyber issues was going to press on Thursday, we stumbled on an excellent series of articles by Song Sang-ho at the Korea Herald. We appreciate good journalism; these are an extremely useful source on the full range of issues, and are noteworthy for their coverage not only of North Korean capabilities […]

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Hollywood, Paris, Pyongyang, Seoul: What is an Appropriate Reaction to Attacks on Free Speech?

by | January 16th, 2015 | 07:00 am

We covered the initial decision of Sony not to release a supposedly offensive comedy in several posts in December (our main concerns with self-silencing were outlined here; our short reviews of The Interview from two weeks ago are here).

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STTB: Cyber Thursday

by and Kevin Stahler | January 15th, 2015 | 07:00 am

The Interview has been out in theaters and VOD for almost three weeks. Although the Guardians of Peace have not struck back, there is still plenty of fallout from the hack; we offer a brief roundup here. Sung Kim, special representative for North Korea policy, testified before House Foreign Relations this week. His testimony led […]

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