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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

Academic Sources: Nielsen and Simmons on Rewards from Ratifying Human Rights Treaties

by | August 27th, 2015 | 07:00 am

Periodically, we look at academic research that is not on the Korean peninsula but has relevance to it. Richard Nielson (MIT) and Beth Simmons (Harvard) have published an interesting piece in the most recent issue of International Studies Quarterly called “Rewards for Ratification: Payoffs for Participating in the International Human Rights Regime.” Since Oona Hathaway’s […]

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Reconstituting China-DPRK investment ties

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

I hate it when people put those little red exclamation marks on their emails indicating that it’s urgent, and then when I open it up it’s just a routine email. One guy I know puts red exclamation marks on all of his messages. Which means he puts red exclamation marks on none of his messages. So a […]

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Tensions Update IV: The Agreement

by | August 24th, 2015 | 08:31 pm

8:30 PM East Coast Time, 9:30 AM Seoul Seoul—where I am currently participating in a KBS forum today—woke up to news of the agreement reached early this morning between the North and South. In an odd role reversal, Yonhap posted the English-language version of the agreement released by the KCNA. This twist itself raises an […]

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Tensions Update III: Talks

by | August 23rd, 2015 | 01:11 am

Sunday August 23, 1 AM Eastern time. The events surrounding the onset of the North-South talks—about to enter their second round as this goes to press—suggest strongly that it was North Korea that stood down. After setting a 48-hour ultimatum for the South to stop its propaganda broadcasts on Thursday, it was Pyongyang that reached […]

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Tensions Update II

by | August 21st, 2015 | 12:00 pm

Friday August 21 (as of noon Eastern time): The major development overnight was the revelation of a Central Military Commission meeting on Thursday chaired by Kim Jong Un and the issuing of a 48-hour ultimatum (5PM Saturday South Korea time, 4:30PM North Korea time, 4AM Saturday East Coast Time) on shutting down South Korean broadcasts from speakers […]

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Exchange of Fire: Peninsula Update I

by | August 20th, 2015 | 08:00 pm

7:30 PM East Coast Time August 20 The central security problem on the Korean peninsula is not general deterrence but what is known as the stability-instability paradox. Precisely because general deterrence is stable, the North can take risks knowing that the probability of them ending in general war is low. Ideally such actions are designed […]

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2015 Joint Statement by Korean, Japanese and International Scholars: For East Asia’s “Freedom from the Past”

by and Marcus Noland | August 20th, 2015 | 07:00 am

With the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War, history is upon us. Yesterday, we parsed the Abe speech, arguing that it sought to assert a new historical narrative for Japan. In an earlier post, we reproduced and endorsed an “Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan.” The letter emerged from an […]

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The Abe Speech

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

Comment on Japan’s public apologies resembles the way kids of my generation read Catcher in the Rye. We leafed through the book to find the buzzwords—in this case regret, remorse, condolences, apology—and then measured the words against expectations. In Salinger’s novel, expectations were high and fulfilled; with Abe they were low to begin with and […]

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A Canadian Diplomatic Model?

by | August 18th, 2015 | 07:00 am

In a post last week updating the case of Canadian Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, we stated that “Canada does not have full diplomatic relations with the DPRK.” One reader noted that Canada in fact continues to have diplomatic relations, although non-resident ones; Canada’s interests are managed through Seoul (as are those of about 15 other countries; another […]

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China Sneezes, North Korea Catches a Cold

by | August 17th, 2015 | 07:00 am

Let them eat (rice) cake? For the last year or two I have been beating the “what goes up, can come down” drum with respect to the growth of North Korean exports. The increase in exports observed until recently was partly due to the rise of global commodity prices. This favorable terms of trade effect […]

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