US Korea Institute

Monday May 30th 2016
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Ruediger Frank

Ruediger Frank is a Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna and Head of the Department of East Asian Studies. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Korea University and the University of North Korean Studies. He holds an M.A. in Korean Studies, Economics and International Relations and a Ph.D. in Economics. Visiting Professorships included Columbia University New York and Korea University Seoul. He is a Council member of the Association for Korean Studies in Europe, Vice Director of the Vienna School of Governance, and Deputy Editor of the European Journal of East Asian Studies. He is co-editor of the annual book "Korea: Politics, Economy and Society" (Brill). His major research fields are socialist transformation in East Asia and Europe (with a focus on North Korea), state-business relations in East Asia, and regional integration in East Asia.

Dr. Frank's latest work is the edited book (with S. Burghart) "Driving Forces of Socialist Transformation: North Korea and the Experience of Europe and East Asia" (Vienna: Praesens). In 1991/1992, he spent one semester as a language student at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang and has been a frequent visitor ever since. He testified before European Parliament and advised various governments on North Korea.

The 7th Party Congress in North Korea: A Return to a New Normal

The 7th Party Congress in North Korea: A Return to a New Normal

The single most remarkable thing about the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) is that it took place. After a 36-year hiatus, it was, without doubt, a noteworthy event, but the truly big news we were waiting for—such as an announcement of a drastically new economic policy or a switch to collective leadership—was missing. There [...]

The 2016 North Korean Budget Report: 12 Observations

The 2016 North Korean Budget Report: 12 Observations

On March 30, 2016, the 9th plenary meeting of the 13th Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK convened at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang. Such meetings are routine events taking place annually in the spring. A senior official, usually the Prime Minister or the Minister of Finance, reports on the state budget for [...]

The Economics of Kaesong: Examining the Numbers

The Economics of Kaesong: Examining the Numbers

In response to my article on the Kaesong closure, I have received many helpful comments. In some cases, they confirmed my position; in others, they provided valid criticism that compelled me to check and rethink my arguments. Photo: Yonhap News. One of these comments has been published as a separate article at 38 North by Mr. William Brown. [...]

The Kaesong Closure: Punishment or Shot in the Foot?

The Kaesong Closure: Punishment or Shot in the Foot?

On February 10, 2016, the South Korean government decided to cancel cooperation with North Korea in the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ, or simply Kaesong), arguing that the income from the zone had been used by Pyongyang to finance its nuclear and missile programs. One day later, the North froze all assets, expelled all South Koreans and declared [...]

The 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea in 2016: Return to a “New Normal” or Risk a “Take-Off”?

The 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea in 2016: Return to a “New Normal” or Risk a “Take-Off”?

On October 30, 2015, North Korean media including the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) announced that in early May 2016, the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK, or simply the Party) will be convened. For a socialist country, a Party Congress should be a routine event; decades ago it was, more or less, also for North Korea. The [...]

North Korea’s Foreign Trade

North Korea’s Foreign Trade

Foreign trade is, like elsewhere and for obvious reasons, one of the key indicators of North Korea’s economy. However, since the state is notoriously reluctant to provide related figures, we have to rely on external sources to obtain this data. The South Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) is one institution that has for many years [...]

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