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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

South Korean Attitudes Toward China and Japan: Complex Issues of Identity Refracted through Geopolitics

by | September 23rd, 2014 | 05:56 am

The polling firm TNS Korea periodically releases polls on public attitudes toward diplomatic issues in Northeast Asia. Given the contentious tone of public diplomacy among the three countries, the results of an August poll of South Korean views on China and Japan are fascinating. The poll asked two sets of questions. The first concerned the […]

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Potential Trade in Services Between the US and North Korea

by | September 22nd, 2014 | 06:48 am

In a previous post I examined the possible increase in merchandise trade between the US and North Korea; today I address the issue of trade in services. Both topics are discussed in the paper I presented at the KIEP conference in Seoul last week. As in the case of trade in goods, there are multiple […]

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Halperin on Striking a Deal

by | September 19th, 2014 | 07:14 am

We admit to pretty deep skepticism about the prospects for reviving the Six Party Talks, let alone moving toward a more comprehensive security arrangement for Northeast Asia. The US is not seriously interested. To the contrary, the House of Representatives is pushing for more sanctions–as we highlighted in a post earlier in the week–which has […]

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Estimates of Potential US-North Korea Trade

by | September 18th, 2014 | 06:18 am

Yesterday I participated in a conference held in Seoul, “Costs-Benefits of the Unification of the Korean Peninsula to Neighboring Countries,” sponsored by the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. KIEP commissioned papers from American, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian authors to examine the economic impact of Korean unification on their respective economies. I contributed the paper […]

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The Importance of Retained Earnings

by | September 17th, 2014 | 07:03 am

The Chosun Ilbo recently ran a piece titled “Economic Freedom Improves in N. Korea” describing the rise of market based activities. It gave the example of an entrepreneur who managed to scrape together $30,000 from family and friends and launched a textile factory in Chongjin. According to the article, the unnamed businessman forks over 30 […]

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Next Stages on the Commission of Inquiry: the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly

by | September 15th, 2014 | 11:46 pm

We have been in a holding pattern with respect to next steps on the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) findings; our posts on the CoI are collated below. The relevant parties deemed it a non-starter to try to push the issue through the UN Security Council, given the difficulty of securing support for non-consensus resolutions and […]

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Slave to the Blog: IT Update Edition

by | September 15th, 2014 | 07:00 am

We are increasingly convinced that future direction of North Korea—even in the short-run—will hinge on the information wars: the ongoing efforts by both North Koreans and outsiders to communicate and the equally intensive efforts on the part of the government to control such communication. It is hard for a regime of this sort to persist […]

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North Korean Adventures in the Horn of Africa

by | September 12th, 2014 | 07:00 am

Two Dutch researchers, Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer, recently wrote a highly informative piece, “North Korea and Ethiopia, Brothers in Arms,” on North Korea’s military cooperation with that African country. Yet the story is even more convoluted than described in their piece, the upshot being that US government has at times turned a blind eye […]

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Expert Panel on Food Aid to North Korea

by | September 11th, 2014 | 06:49 am

Yesterday, The Guardian’s North Korea Network ran an article bringing together five expert opinions on how the outside world should approach food aid policies towards the DPRK. In addition to our own Marcus Noland, contributors include: Jang Jin-sung, North Korean defector and founder of New Focus International; Roberta Cohen, non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings […]

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The Mu Du Bong

by | September 10th, 2014 | 07:00 am

Back in July, we posted on a nice piece of investigative journalism by Claudia Rosett at Forbes on the Mu Du Bong. Using technology like Vessel Finder, Rosett was able to track the vessel—at least when its Automatic Identification System (AIS) was switched on—and found that its itinerary looked a lot like the Chong Chang […]

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