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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 Korean Politics: The Scandals within the Scandal (Part 1)

by | May 6th, 2015 | 07:00 am

The scandals rocking South Korean politics are hard to sort through, and as is often the case, what appears scandalous on the surface hides even deeper malfeasance. The deeper causes include restraints on political campaigns that are among the most restrictive in the OECD, almost guaranteeing an active gray market for political funds, and government […]

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Slave to the Blog: Human Rights Round Up

by | May 5th, 2015 | 07:00 am

A number of additional human rights items have popped up recently, in addition to the possible executions we covered last week. First up, the US and Korean missions at the UN organized a conversation on human rights issue, moderated by Barbara Demick, whose Nothing to Envy is one of the true must-read books on North Korea. […]

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“KCNA Certifiable” Seal of Approval

by | May 4th, 2015 | 06:39 am

Years ago when the late Alex Cockburn was writing a column for the Village Voice, he had a war of words with Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, whom he nicknamed “the Frother.” After one particularly venomous exchange, the Voice started running a graphic of a medal, a bit like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, […]

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Suki Kim: “Without You, There is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite”

by | May 1st, 2015 | 07:00 am

When I first heard that journalist and author Suki Kim had written a kiss-and-tell memoir about her six months teaching English at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), the very effort struck me as opportunistic and irresponsible. The founders and staff struggled to walk the tightrope between their educational gamble and what the […]

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Possible Satellite Evidence of Executions by Anti-Aircraft Gun

by | April 30th, 2015 | 09:10 am

Greg Scarlatoiu of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and Joseph Bermudez Jr. of AllSource Analysis, Inc. have issued a report claiming to show satellite evidence of the possible execution of multiple individuals by anti-aircraft machine gun fire (.pdf). The supposed execution took place sometime on or around October 17th, 2014 at […]

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In the Lap of Luxury (Goods)

by | April 29th, 2015 | 07:00 am

Ever since the execution of Jang Song Thaek, we have been assessing whether China-North Korea economic relations have been cooling and, if so, to what extent the trend is motivated by political pique between Beijing and Pyongyang. For example, its possible Chinese authorities are putting the squeeze on North Korea through an unofficial “embargo” of […]

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North Korea’s Nuclear Arsenal: The Political Significance of the Chinese Assessments

by | April 28th, 2015 | 07:00 am

Last week, I reviewed two new complementary reports from SAIS on North Korea’s nuclear program (by David Albright here) and on the missile program (by  John Schilling and Henry Kan here). The bottom line: the nuclear program is chugging along and, while there are more constraints on the missile program, the US intelligence community and […]

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Josh Stanton on North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terror

by | April 27th, 2015 | 12:01 am

This afternoon, from 6 – 7:30 PM, Joshua Stanton will present his new report “Arsenal of Terror: North Korea, State Sponsor of Terrorism” sponsored and commissioned by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. In addition to the main presentation by Mr. Stanton, speakers and discussants […]

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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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