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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

Japan-South Korea: How Bad Can it Get? (Part II)

by | July 29th, 2014 | 07:32 am

Yesterday, we provided an overview of a new survey on Japan-South Korea relations from the East Asia Institute (Seoul) and Genron NPO, focusing on the depressing importance of history issues. Today, we consider the geostrategic consequences. Chart 10 shows that publics in both countries recognize the importance of the bilateral relationship, although the share of […]

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Japan-South Korea: How Bad Can it Get ? (Part I)

by | July 28th, 2014 | 09:47 am

Most analysts of East Asia have been surprised about how far the Japan-South Korea relationship could deteriorate. Yes, the Abe administration has had a tin ear for history issues. But would those indiscretions really override the many strategic and economic interests the two countries share? The short answer is “yes,” which a must-read new survey […]

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Censoring Hollywood

by | July 25th, 2014 | 07:45 am

The Dear Leader’s dignity is under attack from all sides. What is to be done? First it was the imperialist Hollywood machine with “The Interview”, the latest Seth Rogan/James Franco bro-mance that depicts an assassination plot against Kim Jong Un. In response, the North Korean state lodged official protests to both the UN and the […]

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Tracking the Mu Du Bong: Is North Korea at it Again?

by | July 24th, 2014 | 07:28 am

There are a number of publically-available maritime vessel tracking technologies used for commercial purposes; they also have applications for maritime safety, international security, and surveillance. (A great example of these services is NK News’ Live North Korea Ship Tracking platform.) Last year’s seizure of the Chong Chon Gang and its contraband cargo was a case […]

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STTB: Russia, Blackwater, and Rumsfeld

by | July 23rd, 2014 | 06:28 am

One aspect of Russia’s pivot toward North Korea is the promotion of the Russian ruble as an alternative settlement currency to the US dollar. Virtually all North Korean trade is conducted in Chinese yuan, US dollars or barter. Most imports are denominated in yuan, while exports are primarily settled in dollars. The latter may reflect the fact […]

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Voting with Their Feet

by | July 22nd, 2014 | 06:30 am

“Our country is well-organized. There are no riots, no strikes, no differences in opinion.” Kim Mun-sung, then Deputy Chair of the Committee for External Economic Cooperation. One of the odder inquiries I sometimes receive from journalists concerns public opinion in North Korea. As far as I know there are no published public opinion surveys (though […]

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Russia Update

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

As the international community grapples with the eastern Ukraine, we return to a theme we have followed more closely since the Park-Putin summit of last fall: the “Russian pivot” to Asia. The most significant economic development in this vein was undoubtedly the Gazprom deal with China. But we have also noted a succession of initiatives […]

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Refugee Testimony: “I am a North Korean Millennial”

by | July 18th, 2014 | 07:43 am

Direct refugee testimony remains one of the most important sources of information on North Korea; in the past we have provided links to a number of presentations including TED Talks from Hyeonseo Lee and Joseph Kim. We now have a new entry from Yeonmi Park. Born in Hyesan in 1993, Park has seen both sides […]

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South Korean Aid: Trying Again

by | July 17th, 2014 | 07:05 am

This blog has followed the twists and turns of Park Geun Hye’s Trustpolitik, most recently in the reformulation in her Dresden speech. An ongoing issue is how aid will be used to smooth any North-South political process. Most of the Dresden promises were prospective, offering large-scale aid commitments were North Korea to change course. However, […]

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Japan’s Constitutional Re-Interpretation II: The Domestic Front

by and Kevin Stahler | July 16th, 2014 | 07:50 am

Last week, we ran a post on how North Korean threats were used by Prime Minister Abe to justify his re-interpretation of the Article IX constraints on Japan’s pursuit of collective self-defense (CSD). Today, we probe the domestic politics of the Abe government’s reinterpretation by looking at public opinion data. Although there is some variation […]

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