US Korea Institute

Thursday December 18th 2014
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Evil geniuses, stumbling fools, or something in between, we will attempt to divine the real motives behind Pyongyang’s foreign policy moves.

“Not Proven”

“Not Proven”

Courts and juries in Scotland can find a person guilty or innocent, but they have a third verdict, “Not Proven” that falls in between. “Not proven” means, colloquially, we believe they did it but there isn’t enough evidence to conclusively find the suspect guilty or to find them to be innocent. Not proven is a good description of the [...]

The Urgency of Now: Why Obama Needs to Take the Lead on North Korea

The Urgency of Now: Why Obama Needs to Take the Lead on North Korea

US-China Impasse In the lead up to President Obama’s recent visit to Beijing for APEC, North Korea seemed high on the list of priorities for his bilateral summit with Xi Jinping. Perhaps in their tête-à-tête Xi gave vent to his annoyance with Pyongyang, tempting Obama to take some comfort in the notion that he and Xi were basically on the [...]

Reading Pyongyang’s Intentions with Japan

Reading Pyongyang’s Intentions with Japan

North Korea seems to be focused on a new era of humanitarian diplomacy. The recent release of US detainees Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller prompted many to argue that the potential sanction by the United Nations on human rights violations may be producing a new era of compromise in Pyongyang. But there seems little urgency in its discussions [...]

Smoke and Mirrors: DPRK Front Companies in China and Russia

Smoke and Mirrors: DPRK Front Companies in China and Russia

By Jeffrey Lewis and Catherine Dill Despite extensive international sanctions, many North Korean designated entities continue to do business around the world using aliases. The effectiveness of the sanctions regime depends on the willingness and ability of the international community to prohibit illicit trade. However, that record has been [...]

A Legal Precipice? The DPRK-Uganda Security Relationship

A Legal Precipice? The DPRK-Uganda Security Relationship

Uganda and North Korea are two countries which few would immediately identify as natural partners. Yet on October 29, 2014, Kim Yong Nam, Chairman of the Presidium of the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly, arrived in Kampala to a hero’s welcome. Over four days, Kim met with the Ugandan President, Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister [...]

Clapper’s Mission to North Korea

Clapper’s Mission to North Korea

Barely two weeks after freeing US citizen Jeffrey Fowle (on October 22), North Korea has sent the two remaining American prisoners home, releasing them into the arms of the US Government’s highest-ranking intelligence official—Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Why the director of national intelligence should go to North Korea [...]

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