US Korea Institute

Monday January 23rd 2017
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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.

The Maritime Boundary between North & South Korea in the Yellow (West) Sea

The Maritime Boundary between North & South Korea in the Yellow (West) Sea

South Korea has become a dynamic and lively country, providing global leadership in numerous areas, but it is situated in a complicated region and faces serious challenges in dealing with its neighbors. The sinking of the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan on March 26, resulting in the deaths of 46 sailors, is a ready reminder of the instability of the [...]

North Korea: Ghost of Roh vs. Living Lee

North Korea: Ghost of Roh vs. Living Lee

How the sinking of the Cheonan is playing out in South Korea’s political discourse. In the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” East Asia’s most important historical novel, the ghost of a dead general, Guan Yu, kills a living one, Xiahuo Dun. South Koreans are drawing parallels in the June 2 regional elections. Will the deceased [...]

Sanctions: An Important Component of U.S. North Korea Policy

Sanctions: An Important Component of U.S. North Korea Policy

The debate over the utility of sanctions in foreign policy is usually depicted in binary fashion, i.e. whether the U.S. should use pressure or engagement. The reality, of course, is that sanctions and engagement—along with economic assistance, military deterrence, alliances, and public diplomacy—are all diplomatic tools to influence the [...]

Looking for Leverage in All the Wrong Places

Looking for Leverage in All the Wrong Places

It is an article of faith in Washington that sanctions have forced North Korea to become more pliable at the negotiating table in the past and are doing so now. This is self-delusion. To North Korea, sanctions are clear evidence of U.S. hostile intent. Not only has it found ways to evade them, but it has also retaliated for their imposition by [...]

Tokyo Looks East While Washington Looks Back

Tokyo Looks East While Washington Looks Back

Washington sometimes forgets that it’s more difficult to move forward when it’s looking back. Preoccupied with base realignment in Japan, it has overlooked more promising developments in Tokyo. The rout of the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and its coalition partners has opened the way to [...]

Why the Sunshine Policy Made Sense

Why the Sunshine Policy Made Sense

At a recent private meeting in London, a former senior United Nations’ official, drawing on experience relating to a wide range of countries, said that transforming a “failing” or “fragile” state was not something that could be done overnight. Those involved needed to think in terms of ten to twenty years rather than weeks or months. [...]

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