US Korea Institute

Friday September 30th 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.

Between Wishful Thinking and Realism: a Prague Spring, Pyongyang Style

Between Wishful Thinking and Realism: a Prague Spring, Pyongyang Style

On September 20, 2016, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) issued a call worth an estimated 1.6 million USD for projects to “foster the free flow of information into, out of, and within the DPRK.” In particular, applicants are encouraged to submit proposals for producing and transmitting radio [...]

Warning: The Korean Peninsula is Falling into Disequilibrium

Warning: The Korean Peninsula is Falling into Disequilibrium

For centuries, the Korean peninsula has been the fulcrum in Northeast Asia’s balance of power equation. It sits at the nexus of Chinese, Japanese, American, and Russian vital national interests. To this end, international relations scholars describe the peninsula as an arena of conflict and competition; or as a tinderbox, a flashpoint for [...]

The Gossip Mill: How To (SP)Read a Rumor About North Korea

The Gossip Mill: How To (SP)Read a Rumor About North Korea

The Gossip Mill: How To (SP)Read a Rumor About North Korea This week, Seoul’s Joongang Daily reported that Kim Jong Un executed two top officials: Hwang Min, former agricultural minister, and Ri Yong Jin, who had a “senior position in the education ministry, possibly as high as minister level.” These high level executions were said to [...]

North Korea’s Man on the Moon?

North Korea’s Man on the Moon?

“Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon!” What would have been alarming coming from a Cold War superpower seems almost comical coming from Pyongyang. Yet that was the recent claim from Hyon Kwang Il, director of [...]

Propaganda Games: Reviewing Two Documentaries on North Korea

Propaganda Games: Reviewing Two Documentaries on North Korea

The Propaganda Game. Directed by Alvaro Longoria. Spain: Morena Films, 2015. DVD, 98 min. Under the Sun. Directed by Vitaly Mansky. Russia: Vertov, 2015. DVD, 110 min. What is truth and what is propaganda? How do documentaries fit into those paradigms? Two films that came out in 2015 attempt to answer those questions vis-à-vis North Korea. One [...]

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 [...]

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