US Korea Institute

Monday March 27th 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 “China Factor”

The “China Factor”

A new round of shadowboxing appears to have begun in Washington over North Korea policy in the wake of Pyongyang’s two latest nuclear tests and unrelenting series of missile tests. For some time, the Obama administration’s policy of “strategic patience” has found few defenders apart from its architects, and there is now a general consensus [...]

Byungjin vs the Sanctions Regime: Which Works Better?

Byungjin vs the Sanctions Regime: Which Works Better?

While the North Korean nuclear problem has long been at the center of discourse concerning the Korean peninsula, the recent growth of its nuclear and missile programs has prompted a new concern: North Korea could soon directly threaten US territory, giving it a deterrent capability it had never had before. This looming threat underscores an [...]

Under New Management: Shifts in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry and Nuclear Communications

Under New Management: Shifts in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry and Nuclear Communications

With rampant speculation about North Korea conducting another nuclear test in the near future, it is important to examine not only the technical aspects of the September test, but how it was communicated to the North’s allies—China and Russia. As such, it appears that key North Korean officials were dispatched just days before the test, who [...]

Preventing a Nuclear South Korea

Preventing a Nuclear South Korea

In a report projecting how North Korea’s nuclear arsenal may grow over the next few years, mid- to high-end scenarios estimated that the North could build upwards of 50-100 nuclear weapons by 2020, approaching the size of arsenals in India and Pakistan. By enabling the DPRK to credibly threaten a nuclear second strike against the United States, [...]

Paying Attention Helps: Pondering North Korean Signals

Paying Attention Helps: Pondering North Korean Signals

Chickens come home to roost, the swallows return to Capistrano, and years of Washington and Seoul misreading signals from North Korea have helped fuel black storm clouds on the horizon. The situation on the Korean peninsula is not just bad; it is getting worse at an ever-faster pace. How could this happen? For a moment, forget the big-picture [...]

Sensationalist Squad: Olympic Coverage of DPRK Team Misses the Mark

Sensationalist Squad: Olympic Coverage of DPRK Team Misses the Mark

Ah, North Korea at the Olympics. A chance for the world’s media to see the DPRK’s fittest citizens up close and ponder how unusual a country it is. Yet missing from all this hype, is just how normal the role of sports is for North Koreans. (Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty) At each Olympic games, the media unavoidably get a little [...]

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