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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

South Korea’s Faustian Dilemma: China-ROK Economic and Diplomatic Ties (Part II)

by and Kent Troutman | April 15th, 2014 | 07:10 am

Yesterday, we tracked the blooming of economic relations between South Korea and China over the last decade. Today we come to a less-quantifiable and downright murky question: will public sentiment and diplomatic relations follow suit? In this respect, Korea has entered into something of a Faustian Dilemma: on one hand, it is very difficult to resist […]

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South Korea’s Faustian Dilemma: China-ROK Economic and Diplomatic Ties (Part I)

by and Kent Troutman | April 14th, 2014 | 07:31 am

For South Korea, the colossus across the Yellow Sea provides both opportunity and great uncertainty. China’s proximity coupled with its growth has provided a massive market for ROK goods; China has long-since been South Korea’s top trade partner, besting the United States by wider margins each year. There is also great potential for deepening of […]

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North Korea Events Next Week

by | April 11th, 2014 | 09:39 am

Early next week, Marcus Noland will be speaking at two North Korea-related events hosted by our neighbors at the Brookings Institution. First up on Monday, April 14th: The Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) will host an address by Michael Kirby, chair of the U.N. Commission of […]

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The Stephen Kim Case

by | April 10th, 2014 | 07:00 am

Last week, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim was sentenced to 13 months under the Espionage Act following a plea bargain reached in February; The Washington Post’s Ann Marimow provides a good overview of the case. Of interest to this blog is the fact that Kim’s crime consisted of leaking classified information on North Korea to Fox News […]

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Sources: Global Asia on the Kim Jong Un Regime

by | April 9th, 2014 | 07:00 am

It is always hard to assess whether and how North Korea is changing under Kim Jong Un. If we focus on the conflicts with the international community over nuclear weapons or the dynastic and authoritarian nature of the regime, it is easy to assume continuity. But as we argued in Witness to Transformation, there have […]

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North Korea by Night I: Regional Developments

by and Travis Pope | April 8th, 2014 | 07:01 am

We have all seen the satellite images of the Korean peninsula, with a lit-up South and nothing more than a small blip of light around Pyongyang. In fact this picture has been changing as can been in the 2012 composite image reproduced below; other cities and even smaller towns are visible. Therein lies a new […]

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More on Dresden

by | April 7th, 2014 | 07:00 am

Last week, we provided a cautiously positive appraisal of President Park Geun Hye’s Dresden speech. Those sentiments were not shared by either the North Koreans nor a number of colleagues we respect, so we report some other views here. We argued that while Park did not try to hide her values, she simultaneously acknowledged that […]

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The Immigrant Blues

by | April 4th, 2014 | 06:02 am

Last fall, I wrote a post on refugee success stories but recent surveys document how many continue to struggle. According to a survey by the NGO North Korean Refugees Foundation, the jobless rate among North Korean refugees rose in 2013 to nearly 10 percent, up from 7.5 percent the previous year. (By point of comparison, at […]

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Slave to the Blog: Groundhog Day

by | April 3rd, 2014 | 06:13 am

OK, so it’s not literally Groundhog Day but when I looked at my notes that’s what it seemed like. I think that it was almost two years ago when I first wrote about Seoul’s attempt to collect on the “food aid loans,” the creative fiction adopted during the Sunshine era to provide aid to North […]

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“Wir Sind ein Volk!” The Dresden Speech

by | April 2nd, 2014 | 07:00 am

Park Geun Hye’s Trustpolitik has had a rocky history, facing both conceptual problems of how to square various circles and the perennial difficulty of dealing with a highly defensive North Korea. From the beginning, President Park sought to pull North Korea policy back from the intransigent stance of the Lee Myung Bak administration, but the […]

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