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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

Haggard at Nikkei Asian Review

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

The week before last, a group of American diplomats and North Korea specialists met at a track-two dialogue in Singapore. The American delegation was led by former special State Department representative for North Korea Stephen Bosworth and included Leon Sigal, author of the classic study of the first nuclear crisis, Disarming Strangers, non-proliferation expert Joseph […]

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Seoul Conference on Doing Business in North Korea

by | January 26th, 2015 | 04:38 pm

This is short notice, but we were alerted to an upcoming conference at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) titled “Doing Business in North Korea: Opportunities and Challenges” which will take place from 1 – 6PM on January 28th. (According to the .pdf instructions, you will be able to register on-site and there […]

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Russia-DPRK Relations Update: Are Fighter Jet Sales in the Cards?

by and Kevin Stahler | January 26th, 2015 | 07:00 am

Among the more intriguing developments in the past year has been the apparent deterioration in diplomatic relations between North Korea and China, and the North’s concomitant tilt toward Russia. The dance continues with the announcement that Kim Jong Un will attend a military march commemorating the 70th anniversary of the allied victory in Moscow in […]

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DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies on the Shin Case (aka “Give ‘em enough rope”)

by | January 23rd, 2015 | 06:13 am

In the interest of being, as they say over at Fox News, “fair and balanced,” today we present the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies statement on the Shin Dong-hyuk case. It is an interesting perspective which I believe merits wide circulation. To paraphrase, “we resolutely deny that we have any homosexuals in our country, but […]

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The Case Against—and For—Shin Dong-hyuk

by | January 22nd, 2015 | 10:02 am

As the drama unfolded at the UN over the Commission of Inquiry report, the North Korean government took particular aim at one of the refugees who had testified before the Commission: Shin Dong-hyuk. Shin’s case had been brought to life through Blaine Harden’s powerful Escape from Camp 14. The book had strong impact, and was […]

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Haass vs. Schake on North Korea Policy

by | January 22nd, 2015 | 07:00 am

This blog welcomes informed debate on US policy toward North Korea, and The Diplomat’s Joseph Bosco reminded us of one we should replay. In late December, Richard Haass, with long policy experience in the Middle East and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a piece on North Korea policy on the Wall […]

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How Has the Commodity Bust Affected North Korea’s Trade Balance? (Part 2)

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

Yesterday, I presented a simple exercise to measure to what degree deteriorating global market prices for iron ore and anthracite have affected North Korea’s trade balance, given about half of the country’s exports come from these commodities. My rough guess is that North Korea will forego upwards of half a billion dollars in export revenue […]

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How Has the Commodity Bust Affected North Korea’s Trade Balance? (Part 1)

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

While the plunge in the price of crude oil has grabbed headlines for months, it overshadows the longer running, albeit interrelated, deterioration in global commodities prices more broadly. Everything from metals and ores, coal, and even food has been steadily declining in value for years. North Korea is heavily reliant on commodities such as anthracite […]

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Again, Syria

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

Der Spiegel has published an explosive new expose on Syria’s nuclear program that has not gotten the attention it deserves. The report reopens long-standing questions about the Syria-North Korea relationship. After the Israeli bombing of the Kibar site in September 2007, Syria made every effort to make sure that no inferences could be drawn about […]

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Al-Jazeera’s “Hidden State: Inside North Korea”

by | January 18th, 2015 | 09:17 pm

We are sometimes puzzled why North Korea grants access to foreign journalists, only to have them do what any self-respecting journalist would do: report what they see. This includes both the restraints on production in North Korea, the bizarre–and similarly constrained–responses of North Koreans to questions, and the necessity of reaching beyond North Korean footage […]

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