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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

Detainees: Kim Guk-gi and Choe Chun-gil

by | March 30th, 2015 | 06:16 am

Detentions of foreigners play multiple roles in North Korea’s political system, not only addressing real threats but reminding the public of the anti-system dangers that lurk. Korean speakers are clearly more dangerous than the cast of other not-so-innocents abroad that run afoul of North Korean law (see below for a running tally) and they generally […]

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Action Items for North Korea Freedom Week 2015

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

From the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC): March 24, 2015 Dear Friends: The 12th Annual North Korea Freedom Week April 26-May 2nd 2015 is just around the corner – below please find an update on the confirmed public events so far for this week to promote the freedom, human rights, and dignity of the North […]

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Why Unification is Not a Selfish Wish

by | March 27th, 2015 | 07:12 am

The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs sponsors an annual international affairs essay competition for high school and college students. This year the contest attracted 173 entries from 38 countries. Winners receive Amazon gift certificates and a copy of Ethics & International Affairs: A Reader. This year the question to be addressed was “What […]

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STTB: Tales of Labor, Depression, and the University of Maryland Terrapins Schooling President Obama

by | March 26th, 2015 | 05:27 am

Let’s start with something serious before wandering off into the usual North Korean weirdness. It drives me nuts when people talk abstractly about “Chinese style reform” or even “agricultural reform” as though some vague aspiration will translate into results on the ground. So it’s nice when someone bothers to look under the hood. IFES recently […]

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My (Foreign) Country Home

by | March 25th, 2015 | 06:54 am

Back when I taught international trade, land was treated as an internationally fixed factor, while capital and labor could cross borders. That’s still a reasonable assumption (excepting eastern Ukrainian farmland, that is) but there has been a trend in recent years of foreign entities purchasing or leasing large tracts of agricultural land in foreign countries […]

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Christopher Hill’s Outpost: Things Fall Apart (Part II)

by | March 24th, 2015 | 07:00 am

Yesterday, I reviewed the sections of Christopher Hill’s memoir, Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy, dealing with the negotiation of the September 2005 Joint Statement and the Banco Delta Asia problem. The resolution of BDA set the stage for two operational agreements: the Initial Actions for Implementation of the Joint Statement of February […]

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Christopher Hill’s Outpost : The BDA Problem (Part I)

by | March 23rd, 2015 | 07:00 am

Christopher Hill’s lively memoir, Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy, is a good read. Like all memoirs, it necessarily shows its protagonist in the best light. But it is nonetheless honest—and caustic—about the challenges that come with diplomacy, including sheer tedium. Hill also shows that those challenges stem not only from our adversaries […]

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New Journal: S/N Humanities

by | March 21st, 2015 | 07:00 am

Fresh perspectives on North Korea and North-South relations are always welcome, so it was interesting to see a new journal on the scene: S/N Korean Humanities. The effort is led by Won Choi, a research professor at The Institute of the Humanities for Unification at Konkuk University; a piece by Park Myung-Kyu explains Konkuk’s efforts […]

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UN Debates on Situation of Human Rights in North Korea and Eritrea

by | March 20th, 2015 | 07:00 am

On March 16th, the UN Human Rights Council held back to back discussions on the human rights situations in North Korea and Eritrea. First, Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, introduced a new Human Rights Council report (Word document download here) for discussion. The […]

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Chris Green, Steven Denney and Brian Gleason on Re-defectors

by | March 19th, 2015 | 07:00 am

A crucial pillar of regime control in the North is information. The core objectives of information control are two: to offer up a shining portrait of the North; and to denigrate the rest of the world, and particularly the South. A typical day at KCNA contains a number of stories on the South that portray […]

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