US Korea Institute

Wednesday September 2nd 2015
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North Korea-watchers come in all ideological shapes and sizes. We will draw on informed views to give our readers a spectrum of perspectives.

When North Koreans Go South, Some Go Professional

When North Koreans Go South, Some Go Professional

When Park Gun-ha defected to South Korea in 2005, he first hoped to find a well-paid farm assignment separating newly hatched male and female chicks. But, like many other moments in his life, things did not go as planned and the former North Korean customs officer instead migrated to Thailand to sell cosmetics. He was later deported back to South [...]

Revisiting the Agreed Framework

Revisiting the Agreed Framework

Throughout the debate over nuclear negotiations with Iran, many commenters have referred to 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States of America and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Usually, these references are made in passing, conveying the idea that the Agreed Framework is, like the Kellogg-Briand Pact, broadly understood to [...]

The North Korean Budget Report 2015: Ten Observations

The North Korean Budget Report 2015: Ten Observations

On April 9, 2015, the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), North Korea’s parliament, met for its annual spring session. As usual, the Prime Minister gave an overview of the major economic achievements of the past year and the tasks ahead, and the Minister of Finance reported on the state budget for the previous and current years. Given the lack [...]

Keeping Up with the Kims: When Not to Freak Out

Keeping Up with the Kims: When Not to Freak Out

He’s alive! After a ten-day absence, Vladimir Putin surfaced looking, well, ten days older. A lot of people probably felt silly. This is a recurring problem—for foreign policy watchers of any stripe, but especially Korea-watchers. Every time a dictator takes a few days off, Twitter freaks out, deciding that the he’s dead, there is a coup [...]

Korean Unification: Before the Bonanza

Korean Unification: Before the Bonanza

Recent events have brought the topic of Korean unification back into public debate. Republic of Korea (ROK) President Park Geun-hye gave an important address on the subject last spring in Dresden, Germany. Last fall, Kim Jong Un’s month-long disappearance got observers speculating about his health and whereabouts. Was Kim still in power? Was the [...]

Jumping to Conclusions…Again

Jumping to Conclusions…Again

As surely as a new year follows the old, North Korea’s New Year’s Day message is scoured for signals of regime intent to reform and moderate its provocative behavior. Passages that are less vituperative than the preceding year are hailed as harbingers of peaceful engagement. Despite these inevitably rosy pundit predictions, there is less [...]

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