US Korea Institute

Monday March 27th 2017
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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.

Reflections on “The Party as the Kingmaker”

Reflections on “The Party as the Kingmaker”

It has always seemed to me there wasn’t much to be gained by nitpicking someone else’s work. Especially when people are writing under pressure and the uncertainties of breaking events, minor differences over details need to be stifled, as Archie Bunker might say. This is one of those times. As of this writing, we are only about 120 hours [...]

James Church Hits the Interview Trail

James Church Hits the Interview Trail

Not long after news reports that the State Department was changing horses mid-stream in its North Korea negotiating team, James Church happened to be going through stacks of paper on his desk. He ran across this interview with Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, the US Special Representative for North Korea Policy, from May 2010. Naturally, he [...]

Inspector O and the Tea Party

Inspector O and the Tea Party

When Inspector O walked across the bridge into Tumen, it was raining hard. I was waiting in one of the cheap trinket stores, the one nearest the end of the bridge, as we’d agreed in our brief phone conversation the week before. There were no other customers in the place, but he’d told me to stand near the shelf of ashtrays in the shape of T42 [...]

Inspector O and the Porkpie Option

Inspector O and the Porkpie Option

“Tell me the truth.” We were sitting in a small pub in the English countryside, and Inspector O had a curious, hang dog look on his face. “Do you think I am weird?” I was instantly on guard. This could lead nowhere good. “Did someone call you weird?” I ran my memory files, wondering who might be dyspeptic enough to use the [...]

Inspector O and You Know Who

Inspector O and You Know Who

You may recall that last month Inspector O (See “Inspector O and an Ancient Map,” October 17, 2010) invited me to sit with him in the skybox secretly (or at least unobtrusively) to observe the recently held party conference in Pyongyang. What you might not know is that at the last minute he sent me a message saying he had been assigned to [...]

Inspector O and an Ancient Map

Inspector O and an Ancient Map

It was dusk, and I was pacing around a bench in the big square near the Parliament Building, wondering if Inspector O had forgotten our meeting. He was more than an hour late, but the message at the hotel had been as clear as it was short. “Five square, be there.” A few minutes after 6:00, I spotted him strolling along the street, stopping and [...]

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