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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

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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The Human Rights Council’s First Official Panel on North Korea

by | September 29th, 2015 | 06:35 am

As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, in conjunction with the release of the fourth edition of David Hawk’s The Hidden Gulag, the Committee for Human Rights on North Korea (full disclosure: I’m on the Board) launched a Hidden Gulag blog. Now they have launched another blog, HRNK Insider, devoted to the inside baseball of human […]

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Slave to the Blog: the World Bank meets North Korea

by | September 28th, 2015 | 06:38 am

The series Slave to the Blog (or STTB for short) are posts where we revisit themes and stories of continuing interest. Fortuitously, recent research from the World Bank has provided me the opportunity to flog the President Jim Yong Park Political Breakthrough contest which has garnered little reader interest. Last week it was tough to […]

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Marcus Noland speaking at the University of Hawaii, Oct. 13

by | September 26th, 2015 | 07:00 am

If you are planning to be in Hawaii next month: Dr. Marcus Noland, Vice President and Director of Studies of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, will present the 2015 Seiji Naya Asia-Pacific Lecture on October 13 at 6:30 pm in Auditorium A102 in Shidler College of Business on the UH-Manoa Campus.  Parking on upper […]

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President Jim Yong Kim Political Breakthrough Contest

by | September 25th, 2015 | 05:10 am

Steph Haggard and I have long argued that the international financial institutions are well-placed to offer North Korea technical advice on a range of issues, insulated from the vagaries of bilateral diplomacy, and if North Korea were willing to embrace economic reforms, development assistance as well.

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Slave to the Blog: North Koreans Abroad

by | September 24th, 2015 | 06:16 am

This blog has its origins in the book Witness to Transformation which was based on two large-scale refugee surveys. As a consequence, issues relating to refugees have always had a special place on this blog. But not all North Koreans abroad are refugees: the organized export of labor is another of my hobbyhorse issues topics […]

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The Food Situation in North Korea: the “New Normal”?

by and Marcus Noland | September 23rd, 2015 | 07:00 am

We have been scratching our heads about the North Korean food situation amidst a welter of conflicting evidence. The debate on the North Korean economy has shifted subtly to a focus on de facto reform and growth, perhaps even in the countryside. And the “100 year drought” proved an exaggeration. On the other hand, assessments […]

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The Strange Case of Steve Park

by | September 22nd, 2015 | 06:27 am

You may remember Park Il-woo, aka Steve Park, from earlier posts. Back in 2011, the Pyongyang Soju importer announced that he had signed an MOU with the North Korean government to re-open the Mt. Kumgang tourism project, which would have amounted to seizing the property of Hyundai Asan …

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