US Korea Institute

Saturday April 25th 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.

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 [...]

Inside the Dread Box: Seeking Policy in Propaganda

Inside the Dread Box: Seeking Policy in Propaganda

If you study relations between North Korea and the United States, you’ll spend a lot of time reading propaganda, trying to parse phrases for evidence of internal political disputes or perhaps to discern a subtle shift in policy. It can be a chore to sort through the immense amount of tendentious nonsense coming from one the world’s least [...]

Fire the Speech Writers: An East German’s Perspective on President Park’s Dresden Speech

Fire the Speech Writers: An East German’s Perspective on President Park’s Dresden Speech

Following up on Aidan Foster-Carter’s analysis of ROK President Park Geun-hye’s Dresden speech, let me add a few subjective thoughts, since the event took place in my home region. All in all, this speech is a remarkably frank, but not necessarily a very sensitive document, particularly from an East German perspective. The subtle messages it [...]

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