US Korea Institute

Tuesday September 2nd 2014
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Foreign Affairs

Evil geniuses, stumbling fools, or something in between, we will attempt to divine the real motives behind Pyongyang’s foreign policy moves.

The Incheon Asiad: Playing Games, Or a Game-Changer?

The Incheon Asiad: Playing Games, Or a Game-Changer?

Antonio Gramsci or Yogi Berra? It’s not often you see those two in the same sentence. Yet I find these two figures—or rather, things each of them said—helpful in sketching a dilemma which faces all of us in the North Korea business. In a phrase: Dare we hope for better things? Yes, said the Italian Marxist…with qualifications. His [...]

North Korea, Hamas, and Hezbollah: Arm in Arm?

North Korea, Hamas, and Hezbollah: Arm in Arm?

North Korea’s arms exports to US-designated terrorist organizations in the Middle East have made headlines twice recently. On July 23, 2014, a US district court ruled that “North Korea and Iran are liable for damages because they provided material support and assistance” to Hezbollah, which enabled the latter’s rocket attacks during the [...]

The North Korea Contingency: Why China Will Not Cooperate

The North Korea Contingency: Why China Will Not Cooperate

Since Kim Jong Un became the supreme leader of North Korea in late 2011, and especially after Pyongyang undertook nuclear and long-range missile testing in 2012 and 2013, planning for North Korea contingencies (possible political turmoil and collapse) has become a popular theme for the US and ROK governments. Both countries acknowledge the key [...]

A Tale of Two Kaesong Industrial Zones: Not All Foreign Investment is Created Equal

A Tale of Two Kaesong Industrial Zones: Not All Foreign Investment is Created Equal

Promoting foreign direct investment and enhancing commercial engagement is often touted as a potential catalyst for enticing isolated, authoritarian regimes to enact reforms and constructively engage with the international community. Promoting this sort of constructive commercial engagement with North Korea, however, is far easier said than done. [...]

Hello Kitty, Hello Wonsan

Hello Kitty, Hello Wonsan

Wonsan, on the DPRK’s east coast, by all accounts, used to bustle—at least by DPRK standards. If the recent outreach between Japan and North Korea bears fruit, Wonsan could undergo a 21st century revival. Since Japan banned all trade with the DPRK in the wake of the disastrous Kim-Koizumi summit of 2002, Wonsan has been a shell of its [...]

Pyongyang’s New Overtures and Abe’s Diplomacy

Pyongyang’s New Overtures and Abe’s Diplomacy

Recent meetings between Japan and North Korea have prompted concern about whether Prime Minister Abe may be departing from the US and South Korea in its dealings with Pyongyang. Japanese and North Korean officials met on March 30-31, 2014 in Shenyang, China, and again on May 26-28 in Stockholm, Sweden. On May 29, Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga [...]

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