US Korea Institute

Sunday February 14th 2016
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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.

The Kaesong Closure: Punishment or Shot in the Foot?

The Kaesong Closure: Punishment or Shot in the Foot?

On February 10, 2016, the South Korean government decided to cancel cooperation with North Korea in the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ, or simply Kaesong), arguing that the income from the zone had been used by Pyongyang to finance its nuclear and missile programs. One day later, the North froze all assets, expelled all South Koreans and declared [...]

Never Say Never

Never Say Never

(Photo: KCNA) North Korea’s fourth nuclear test surprised a lot of people. That surprise unleashed, among other things, the notion that Kim Jong Un is erratic, an especially loose cannon with no advisers who might counsel restraint because they have all been kicked aside or died. If that were true, one might wonder about the North’s first [...]

The Long Road to Reconciliation: Reflections on a Visit to the Sinchon Museum

The Long Road to Reconciliation: Reflections on a Visit to the Sinchon Museum

A light drizzle painted our windshield, sparkling like tiny diamonds in the reflected headlights of our minibus. Night had fallen rather suddenly as we made our way back to our Pyongyang hotel along country roads, now about an hour and a half away. The twelve members of our World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation and our Korean Christian [...]

Laudable? Lawdy, No! How South Korea’s Spurious Self-Effacement Messes Up North Korea’s Trade Data

Laudable? Lawdy, No! How South Korea’s Spurious Self-Effacement Messes Up North Korea’s Trade Data

Ruediger Frank is one of the very best authorities we have on the DPRK economy. As readers of 38 North well know, he is equally adept at incisive abstract analysis and informed first-hand observation in this vital area. His latest article, “North Korea’s Foreign Trade,” is no exception. Frank has done us all a service, especially those with [...]

China Ponders: Does the Iran Nuclear Deal Mean North Korea is Next?

China Ponders: Does the Iran Nuclear Deal Mean North Korea is Next?

As news spread in July of the freshly brokered multilateral plan on Iran’s nuclear program, some observers began to speculate that a North Korean nuclear deal might come next. Analysts pinned their hopes on China, as in past moments of optimism, when they suggested that the North Korean ally might be able to help reanimate the Six Party [...]

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 [...]

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