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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

European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea on Forced Labor

by | October 13th, 2015 | 01:58 am

In March, we ran a post on European NGOs working on North Korea. One of the start-ups we covered from the beginning was the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea, formed in January 2013 by a group of young activists, journalists, academics, and North Korean exiles. They have now diversified into more research, […]

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Kim Jong Un: A New Ruling Formula?

by | October 12th, 2015 | 12:17 am

The events surrounding the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers Party have gotten a surprising amount of outside interest, partly because of Pyongyang’s assiduous courting of the foreign press. The anniversary is the first quinquennial or decadal one since Kim Jong Il died in 2011, and it was clearly dressed up as […]

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North Korean Nuclear Weapons Inventories Update

by | October 9th, 2015 | 07:00 am

As the North Korea community ponders the likelihood of another satellite launch, David Albright has issued a timely new report estimating North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. The opacity of the system and the absence of an on-the-ground presence since the ejection of inspectors in 2008 make any such effort fraught. But Albright does as careful a […]

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The Busan Film Festival’s Top 100 Asian Films

by | October 8th, 2015 | 07:00 am

I am a firm believer that art can say as much or more about the human condition than the frozen tundra of the social sciences, where Marc Noland and I generally labor away. In connection with the 20th Busan International Film Festival, an event which has continued to grow in stature, the organization released a […]

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Sources: Ben Katzeff Silberstein on North Korean Markets

by | October 7th, 2015 | 07:00 am

We love nothing more than innovative new research on North Korea, and Ben Silberstein does not disappoint with a new paper from the US-Korea Institute at SAIS on Growth and Geography of Markets in North Korea: New Evidence from Satellite Imagery. The study uses Google Earth’s “yardstick” function to measure the growth of markets over […]

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Detainee Update: the Release of Joo Won-Moon

by | October 5th, 2015 | 06:22 pm

We almost have enough detainees to open up a database. The release of Joo Won-moon, however, does suggest a pattern: treatment of detainees is closely calibrated to the regime’s perception of risk. At one end are the odd set of misfits and naïfs who made bad judgments or acted on a lark; the roster can […]

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Nobel Laureate calls for forceful action on North Korean human rights

by | October 5th, 2015 | 06:10 am

Spanish non-speakers are indebted to the DailyNK for alerting the wider world to a statement on North Korean human rights issued by the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Argentine human rights activist Adolfo Perez Esquivel. He was a key leader in nonviolent civil disobedience movements in South America during a period of widespread military […]

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Breaking News: Kim Jong-un to quarterback Raiders

by | October 2nd, 2015 | 06:59 am

Back in June CNN ran a segment on Kim Jong-un’s evidently growing bulk and their panel of experts could not come up with an explanation. Now Chosun Ilbo reports that South Korean intelligence believes that the Young General is tipping the scales at 287 pounds. In a Witness to Transformation blog exclusive we reveal the […]

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The New and Improved Wonsan Kalma Airport

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

Last week North Korea opened Kalma Airport, a remodeled and  modern-looking facility in Wonsan on the east coast. Daily Mail reports that about thirty passengers were on the maiden voyage. (Photos come from Aram Pan of DPRK 360, who was on the flight and whose previous work we have viewed with some skepticism; his work tends to […]

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STTB: Space, Meth, and Diplomats Behaving Badly

by | September 30th, 2015 | 06:56 am

In an update of the “at night South Korea looks like an island from outer space” story, astronaut Scott Kelly, spending a year on the international space station, tweeted the photo above with the message  “Feel bad for the people of #NorthKorea when I see with my own eyes they live without electricity. #YearInSpace.” You know, […]

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