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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

Events: “Maintaining Focus on North Korea Human Rights Violations”

by | April 25th, 2015 | 07:00 am

For those of you in Washington D.C. next week, the Heritage Foundation is holding an event titled “Maintaining Focus on North Korea Human Rights Violations” on Tuesday, April 28th. All speakers and logistical details are appended below:   Maintaining Focus on North Korea Human Rights Violations Panel 1 – North Korean Defectors Highlight Abuses Kim […]

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The Interview Continues to Confound Pyongyang and Seoul

by | April 24th, 2015 | 05:53 am

You have to hand it to Seth Rogen: The Interview had its 15 minutes here in the States, but it is still generating unending heartburn in Pyongyang and Seoul. Activists are using various tactics to smuggle it in to North Korea where the reaction reportedly has run from disgust to “why the hell didn’t you […]

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From Russia with Love (An Addendum)

by | April 23rd, 2015 | 07:00 am

China reported zero exports of crude oil to North Korea throughout the entirety of 2014; we have not seen more recent trade data but we assume the so-called embargo is still in effect, at least on paper. As we argued last year, it is impossible to tell what is actually going on. While there were […]

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From Russia With Love

by | April 22nd, 2015 | 06:47 am

For the last several months we have tracked the warming relations between Pyongyang and Moscow, including signals of growing political closeness, trade, possible arms transfers, even a proposal for North Korea to lease Russian land, culminating in Kim Jong-un’s planned visit to Moscow next month. This week has brought a spate of new stories of […]

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Nuclear and Missile Update

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

As the Iranian negotiations move into their next phase, it is useful to review some recent estimates of the status of the North Korean nuclear and missile programs. In particular, we highlight reports from SAIS’s North Korea Nuclear Futures series (SAIS’s US-Korea Institute). The core of this debate is not only about reprocessing, enrichment and […]

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Slave to the Blog: The Working Man Blues

by | April 20th, 2015 | 06:21 am

A Korean Herald story about the latest failure of talks over the North Korean unilateral increase in wages at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, “Wage talks between 2 Koreas fails again,” inadvertently captures the essence of the problem: Why should two governments be negotiating over the wages paid by private firms to their workers?

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Women’s March for Peace Update

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

In an earlier post, I reported on the Women’s Walk for Peace, involving Gloria Steinem, Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and a slew of prominent women activists. I argued it could make good political theatre, even if vulnerable to North Korean manipulation and polarization in the South. But CNN was a lot less forgiving than I […]

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Slave to the Blog: Coordination Failures

by | April 16th, 2015 | 06:02 am

Coordination failures are central to the world’s inability to deal with the North Korea problem. When the US, for example, wants to push North Korea to the wall to force it to decide between its nuclear weapons program and integrating into the global community on a more normal and prosperous basis, the country has been […]

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Sports, Legitimacy, and Heated Zeal

by and Kevin Stahler | April 15th, 2015 | 05:26 am

Earlier this month, Steph Haggard wrote a post on sources of legitimacy in authoritarian regimes which drew an acidic response from Rüdiger Frank who grew up in East Germany. One potential source of national pride and regime legitimacy now being emphasized in North Korea is achievement in international sports competitions. Kim Jong-un, in a message […]

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NGOs in Action: Engage Korea

by | April 14th, 2015 | 07:00 am

This blog has an interest in the variety of ways that NGOs might productively engage North Korea. A relatively new NGO we had missed is pursuing an interesting model. Engage Korea is a student-­driven initiative led by Ye Jin Kang and Stina Jinsun Bae. Kang is a student at Harvard Medical School who did a […]

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