US Korea Institute

Thursday April 24th 2014
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James Church

Drawing on his experience as a veteran intelligence operative, this well-known author is also an astute expert on the North.

These Are a Few of My Fav-Or-Ate Words

These Are a Few of My Fav-Or-Ate Words

It was a cold morning, and I wasn't happy sitting on a bench alone in the park across the street from the White House, but that was the arranged meeting place so I was there on time. Five minutes after the appointed hour, someone walked up behind me, singing softly. I didn't turn around. Inspector O put his hands on my shoulders. “Raindrops on [...]

A Drop of Caution

A Drop of Caution

The high-profile purge and now execution of Jang Song Thaek has rattled teacups in Northeast Asia and beyond. High-level people have been executed many times before in North Korea, but not in sight or hearing of the international audience. For outside observers, whether Jang was actually guilty of any of the bill of particulars against him is, at [...]

Chickens Defiantly Coming Home to Roost

Chickens Defiantly Coming Home to Roost

So far this week, the very, absolutely, most favorite word of headline writers and reporters is “defiance,” as in “North Korean Missile Launch Act of Defiance.” Yes, that’s one way to look at what happened a few hours past dawn on December 12, when the North made up for its “botched” (another favorite word recently) launch attempt [...]

Inspector O and the Cattle Drive

Inspector O and the Cattle Drive

“Howdy.” I looked up and to my surprise it was Inspector O greeting me, thumbs in his belt. “You look a little bow legged,” I said, and for once I wasn’t kidding. O eased himself beside me onto the bench “Been roping doggies, pardner.” He sighed. “Painful.” He shifted his weight. “Very painful.” “Really? I [...]

Keep Your Eye on the Duck

Keep Your Eye on the Duck

Once upon a time, there was a television show hosted by Groucho Marx called “You Bet Your Life.” Groucho would waggle his eyebrows and tell the contestants, “Say the magic woid (that’s how it came out) and the duck will come down and give you fifty dollars.” For the past six or seven weeks, the duck has worked overtime. The “magic [...]

The Paint Dries

The Paint Dries

There is a regular posse of US policymakers and pundits who, when it comes to dealing with North Korea, like to say that Washington should not “buy the same horse twice.” Sooner or later, when something goes wrong—and it usually does—they end up galloping off on their own steeds—the Three Horses of the Apocalypse: Hysteria, Hyperbole, [...]

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