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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Reading the tea leaves in Pyongyang

by | August 10th, 2013 | 06:29 am

In the past six months, the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has snubbed Google head Eric Schmidt, feted basketballer Dennis Rodman, reputedly sent Rodman back with a message of peace, threatened a nuclear first strike against the United States, closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the centerpiece of inter-Korean economic cooperation, announced that it wanted talks to re-open the zone–and then scuttled the resulting talks, and recently was caught doing military deals with Cuba in violation of UN Security Council sanctions. Now it is talking about using its bloated military to build a ski resort.  Is there any unified explanation for this seemingly contradictory behavior?  

Steph and I tried to answer this question in an hour long talk at the East-West Center.