US Korea Institute

Friday July 1st 2016
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Domestic Affairs

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

The Education of Choe Ryong Hae

The Education of Choe Ryong Hae

North Korea’s political culture recently attracted a spate of new international media attention when Choe Ryong Hae, a member of the nation’s core elite, disappeared from public view. For 18 months, Choe had served as a senior Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Secretary and a member of the WPK Political Bureau’s Presidium (or standing [...]

North Korea’s Special Economic Zones: Plans vs. Progress

North Korea’s Special Economic Zones: Plans vs. Progress

Since Kim Jong Un assumed power, he has prioritized economic development in a way his father never did. Indeed, much of his domestic brand is now linked to economic growth and quality of life issues. He has tinkered with the modus operandi of both farms and state owned enterprises, and set forth a very visible economic experiment: the creation of [...]

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 [...]

What Satellite Imagery Can Tell Us About North Korea’s Markets

What Satellite Imagery Can Tell Us About North Korea’s Markets

North Korea is a well-known “black hole” with regard to quantitative data. Hard numbers from the country are virtually nonexistent, and statistical information about it is scattered and unreliable at best. Most other countries freely publish at least rudimentary statistics on demographics, health, economics, and other areas, but in the DPRK, [...]

Central Military Commission Signals Growing Strength in Peninsula’s Latest Crisis

Central Military Commission Signals Growing Strength in Peninsula’s Latest Crisis

On August 20 and August 27, Kim Jong Un convened an unprecedented pair of meetings of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Military Commission (CMC), the top body responsible for implementing WPK political directives in North Korea’s military. From 2012 to 2014, the CMC gathered twice a year, about once every six months. The August [...]

North Korea’s New Propagandist?

North Korea’s New Propagandist?

In late July 2015, the international media briefly shifted its attention to Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, when a defector-run publication Daily NK reported that she now holds “de facto” control of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s (WPK) Propaganda and Agitation Department (officially called the Publicity and Information Department, [...]

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