US Korea Institute

Wednesday May 24th 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.

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 [...]

Cold War Communications: The Two Koreas Resume Coded Radio Broadcasts

Cold War Communications: The Two Koreas Resume Coded Radio Broadcasts

A little after midnight, early on the morning of July 15, as most of the Korean peninsula slept, were North Korean spies up late listening to the radio? This was the big question after a strange sequence of numbers was read out on a North Korean radio station. It sounded a lot like the coded messages previously used to relay instructions to [...]

North Korea Said it is Willing to Talk about Denuclearization…But No One Noticed

North Korea Said it is Willing to Talk about Denuclearization…But No One Noticed

There was a train wreck last week, but not a lot of people noticed, swooning as they were over the July 6 announcement that the US Department of Treasury had designated Kim Jong Un by name on a new list of individuals sanctioned for human rights violations. In the dance of jubilation, few had the time or inclination (to borrow a line from Irma La [...]

North Korea’s Military Partnerships Under Threat?

North Korea’s Military Partnerships Under Threat?

The latest UN sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have locked the two Koreas in a war for influence on far-flung battlegrounds, from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America. Seoul, however, could inadvertently minimize any future gains in the fight without careful reflection on its results to date. South Korean [...]

Listening to Korea’s Liberals

Listening to Korea’s Liberals

The resounding defeat handed to South Korea’s ruling conservative party in last week’s legislative elections had, on the surface, little to do with North Korea. Domestic issues dominated the campaign, and the vote reflected a so-called South-South struggle that not only pit liberals against conservatives, but also split the liberals into two [...]

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