US Korea Institute

Sunday September 25th 2016
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Bradley O. Babson

Bradley O. Babson is a consultant on Asian affairs with a focus on Korea and Northeast Asia economic cooperation. He is retired from a career at the World Bank, with a concentration in East Asia. In the early 1990s he worked on the opening up of Vietnam and was the first World Bank Resident Representative in Hanoi, and since 1997 has studied the North Korean economy and written extensively on economic perspectives on the integration of North Korea into the international community.

After the Party Congress: What to Make of North Korea’s Commitment to Economic Development?

After the Party Congress: What to Make of North Korea’s Commitment to Economic Development?

It comes as a surprise to no one that North Korea’s newly concluded 7th Party Congress was more “show” than “tell,” but the gathering succeeded as a platform for Kim Jong Un to cement his leadership legitimacy and broad policy for governing. By pulling off the event without a hitch and taking the microphone for two long speeches, Kim [...]

UNSCR 2270: The Good, the Bad and the Perhaps Surprising Opportunity for the North Korean Economy

UNSCR 2270: The Good, the Bad and the Perhaps Surprising Opportunity for the North Korean Economy

The new sanctions established on March 2, by UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2270 bring to mind the hardships that North Korea endured after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The economic disruption from the end of the Cold War led to a contraction of production in the DPRK and hobbled its Public Distribution System (PDS), contributing [...]

Could the New Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Change the Dynamics of Economic Engagement with North Korea?

Could the New Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Change the Dynamics of Economic Engagement with North Korea?

The surprisingly robust emergence of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) through its recruitment of 57 founding member countries has transformed prospects for economic cooperation in Asia. The AIIB promises to become a credible multilateral financial institution capable of funding significant infrastructure projects across the region. [...]

Dilemmas in Financial Engagement with North Korea

Dilemmas in Financial Engagement with North Korea

Over the past few months, there have been a number of important developments concerning North Korea’s external finances. In early December 2014, North Korea announced that the law governing wages for workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex had been revised, removing the upper limit without consultation with South Korean authorities. In [...]

The Demise of Jang Song Thaek and the Future of North Korea’s Financial System

The Demise of Jang Song Thaek and the Future of North Korea’s Financial System

The demise of Jang Song Thaek and those loyal to him just may be good news for the prospects of reforming the North Korean financial system. This system is perhaps the most perverse on the planet, having evolved in a context defined by North Korea’s isolation and inward orientation, its dogged adherence to the ideals of a State-directed economy, [...]

North Korea’s Push for Special Enterprise Zones: Fantasy or Opportunity?

North Korea’s Push for Special Enterprise Zones: Fantasy or Opportunity?

In recent weeks North Korea has actively publicized in domestic and foreign news media its determination to pursue an aggressive strategy to develop special enterprise zones (SEZs) throughout the country. This follows and complements the agreement reached between the two Koreas in September to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC)—which [...]

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Credit for photo of young North Korean girl: T.M. All rights reserved, used with permission.