US Korea Institute

Saturday July 30th 2016
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From politics to economics, from leadership succession to the introduction of fast food restaurants, there is a lot going on inside North Korea.

Deciphering North Korean Economic Policy Intentions

Deciphering North Korean Economic Policy Intentions

The question of whether or not North Korea might openly pursue economic reform has been a focus of expert discussions for years. According to optimists, the DPRK’s masters could transform, or even “conventionalize,” the “Stalinist state” to become a “normal” country—if they retained power long enough to achieve reform and [...]

The Fourth Session of the 13th SPA: Tweaks at the Top

The Fourth Session of the 13th SPA: Tweaks at the Top

The 4th session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the DPRK’s rubber-stamp unicameral legislative body, replaced the country’s supreme power organization at its June 29 meeting. While underscoring the ruling party’s control over state and military affairs and further consolidating Kim Jong Un’s authority, the development [...]

The Death of a Diplomat: Kang Sok Ju

The Death of a Diplomat: Kang Sok Ju

On October 4, 2002, Kang Sok Ju participated in a historically ambiguous but relatively significant official interaction between the US and DPRK governments. At the DPRK Foreign Ministry building in Pyongyang, a delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly confronted Kang, who was then North Korea’s First Vice Minister of Foreign [...]

Some Rabbit! Some Hat!

Some Rabbit! Some Hat!

Well, did Kim Jong Un pull a rabbit out of his hat, or didn’t he? More specifically, in his work report delivered at the 7th Workers' Party Congress held May 6-8, did Kim use the flexibility inherent in byungjin to begin to shift his emphasis from developing the country’s nuclear weapons program to building the economy? To clear the air [...]

Deciphering the 7th Party Congress: A Teaser for Greater Change?

Deciphering the 7th Party Congress: A Teaser for Greater Change?

From one perspective, the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) was a monotonous event, long on rhetoric and short on major policy and personnel changes. No substantive policy announcements took place, and many top officials sat on a rostrum for four days and ultimately kept their jobs. Throughout hours of speeches, Kim Jong Un [...]

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 [...]

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