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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

Build it and they will come (if you let them)

by | October 24th, 2014 | 06:31 am

One could not have made up the headline juxtaposition in my inbox yesterday: “Pyongyang Races to Complete New Airport” and “North Korea Bans Foreign Tourists Over Ebola Threat.” That second one made me wonder if in some kind of budgetary legerdemain the Voice of America had been privatized and taken over by the Onion. The […]

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A Sino-Russian Rivalry over North Korea?

by | October 23rd, 2014 | 07:00 am

Back to the future, the northern part of the Korean peninsula is beginning to resemble turn-of-the-(20th)-century Korea, with a decaying dynasty and foreign powers vying for influence. Further demonstrating his nostalgia for the Soviet Union, President Vladimir Putin’s revanchist Russia is making a bid to re-establish its influence in North Korea. With a history of […]

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The Release of Jeffrey Fowle

by | October 21st, 2014 | 06:27 pm

Over the next few days, we will learn more about the mechanics of Jeffrey Fowle’s release: the channels through which it was negotiated and the terms—if any—to reach the deal. But we can provide some context for why the North Koreans might have released Fowle rather than Miller or Bae, and they center on a […]

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Human Rights Update II: the North Korean Counter-Resolution

by | October 21st, 2014 | 07:00 am

No sooner had we summarized the recent state of play at the UN on North Korean human rights yesterday than we received a copy of a draft counter-resolution that North Korea will now circulate on the issue. The DPRK circulated the draft at a meeting it convened on October 15. The purpose of this resolution […]

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Slave to the Blog: Human Rights Edition

by | October 20th, 2014 | 01:50 am

Last week, we published the full text of a letter from Ambassador Ja Song Nam, the North Korean Permanent Representative to the United Nations, to his fellow ambassadors. This letter reflects evidence of a subtle shift in North Korean policy on human rights issues. On the one hand, the regime continues to assert that “human […]

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More on Missiles: The Domestic Dimension

by | October 17th, 2014 | 10:00 am

Last week, we ran an analysis of North Korea’s missile program with Dan Pinkston and Clint Work. A core finding was that the pattern of testing is not as closely linked to either overt conflict with the US—which peaked in March and April 2013 — nor to events such as the Park-Xi summit as is […]

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Dilemmas of Trustpolitik

by and Jaesung Ryu | October 16th, 2014 | 06:46 am

Now that The Incheon Visit has come and gone, the politics of the upcoming North-South talks and what will be on offer will be front-and-center. We argued that the North has brought—and will bring—surprisingly little; simply holding talks will be framed as a concession worthy of some reciprocity. What is the thinking in the South? […]

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Iron Cyber Dome?

by | October 15th, 2014 | 06:21 am

An earlier post discussed the possibility of South Korea purchasing Israeli “Iron Dome” anti-missile technology (check out the cool video); now according to an essay by Michael Raska at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore, Israel is applying Iron Dome lessons to cyber defense. South Korea is reportedly still toying with the […]

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We’ll Always Have Kaesong

by | October 14th, 2014 | 06:49 am

North Korea unilaterally suspended activities at the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) from April 8 to September 16, 2013. One year after resumption of activities at the KIC, production has returned to pre-suspension levels, though not without collateral damage: the South Korean small- and medium-sized firms who invest there experienced financial damages from cancellation of contracts […]

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Human Rights Racket Alive and Kicking

by | October 10th, 2014 | 04:48 pm

One of the nice things about running this blog is that people send you things. One of the more interesting things I have received recently is a letter which appears to be from Ambassador Ja Song Nam, the North Korean Permanent Representative to the United Nations, to his fellow ambassadors from other member states. It […]

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