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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

Diplomatic Update: Trustpolitik, ASEAN Diplomacy and the Six Party Talks

by | August 20th, 2014 | 07:00 am

While I was traveling in Northeast China last week, there were a few diplomatic developments that warrant brief comment, starting with President Park’s bid to re-open a channel to the North and the outcome of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meetings in Burma. In addition, “strategic patience” has been taking a beating both in hearings […]

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STTB: Mailing it in from the Beach Edition

by | August 19th, 2014 | 06:00 am

Jim Hage is an accomplished runner, a nice guy, and a complete obsessive. He’s been running every day for more than 30 years and has covered more than 100,000(!) miles during this streak. I learned how to say “wind chill” in French from an anecdote about arriving late one night in Montreal in the dead […]

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North Korean Refugees in China: Sometimes it’s Better to be Lucky than Good

by | August 15th, 2014 | 06:16 pm

In the last few weeks a spate of stories have emerged involving North Korean refugees in China and the people who may (or may not) be assisting them. Sorting out truth from fiction, systematic policy from ad hoc decisions by local officials, and signaling from fundamental policy shifts is no easy thing. Time to triangulate. […]

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STTB: This Week in Tourism and Fake Propaganda

by | August 15th, 2014 | 07:35 am

If you haven’t already seen it, “Enter Pyongyang” – a slick time-lapse video made in collaboration with Koryo Tours that shoots you through the North Korean capital – has made a big splash in news outlets and social media; at the time of this writing it has received 2.6 million views. In terms of technical […]

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The (non-) Embargo

by and Kevin Stahler | August 14th, 2014 | 07:06 am

Has a Chinese oil embargo delivered a devastating blow to the North Korean economy? Probably not. There has been some hubbub over China’s alleged de-facto oil embargo to North Korea; according to the Global Post, Chinese trade data has shown no crude exports to North Korea in the first six months of this year. China has […]

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Stephan Haggard on “Korean Kontext”

by | August 13th, 2014 | 07:40 am

Stephan Haggard was recently featured on an episode of KEI’s Korean Kontext, a podcast series that focuses on experts, artists and opinion makers that shape the U.S.-Korea policy world. The interview discusses possible reform paths for North Korea, including both domestic reforms of the agricultural and state-owned enterprise sector and the current push to induce […]

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Nae-Young Lee on Political Polarization in Korea

by | August 12th, 2014 | 06:58 am

This week, I attended a conference in Taiwan organized by Yun-han Chu (National Taiwan University) and Larry Diamond (Stanford) on the important question of polarization in Asian democracies. Nae-Young Lee (Korea University) gave an interesting paper on Korea, comparing levels of party and voter polarization over time, and we summarize some of the findings here. […]

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Sources: The Asan Forum

by | August 11th, 2014 | 07:20 am

At a Korea Economic Institute seminar last week, I had the pleasure of running into Gil Rozman, the leading sociologist in the country working on the international relations of Northeast Asia. I had missed the fact that he has taken over an editorial role at The Asan Forum, an online resource on the region that […]

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Stephan Haggard on “Going Global”

by | August 9th, 2014 | 07:21 am

Stephan Haggard appeared this week on an hour-long radio program with David Delgado called “Going Global” to discuss recent developments in North Korea. You can listen in here; Steph’s interview begins around 8:20.

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Slave to the Blog: IT Edition

by | August 8th, 2014 | 06:46 am

Over the last several weeks, we have seen several stories about information technology, and the perennial debate over whether it undermines the power of authoritarian regimes or can be used to buttress them. This is a cat-and-mouse game, and so the answer is clearly “both.” On the subversive end of the spectrum, we were interested […]

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