US Korea Institute

Sunday April 30th 2017
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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.

Peace or War? Do We Have to Choose?: A Russian Perspective

Peace or War? Do We Have to Choose?: A Russian Perspective

The sinking of the South Korean naval corvette, Cheonan, seems to have taken all progress in North-South reconciliation over the past decade and a half with it. Hopefully it will not get worse, although there are plenty of ill-tempered people on both sides of Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) who may advocate a military response. Worse yet, the situation [...]

Chairman Kim Jong Il’s Visit to China and Its Implications

Chairman Kim Jong Il’s Visit to China and Its Implications

A convoy of vehicles allegedly carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and entourage drives along Changan Avenue in downtown Beijing on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Yonhap Since the beginning of 2010, rumors of an imminent visit by Kim Jong Il to China have been floating around. It was not surprising then that during the investigation of the [...]

Don’t Sink Diplomacy

Don’t Sink Diplomacy

In 1998, I led a team of American government experts to an underground installation to determine if North Korea was cheating on a 1994 agreement to eliminate its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang had recently tested a long-range missile, and relations were tense. For a week, we passed barking guard dogs and shouting soldiers doing their [...]

An Act of Open Insubordination? Implications of the Cheonan Incident for Domestic Politics in North Korea

An Act of Open Insubordination? Implications of the Cheonan Incident for Domestic Politics in North Korea

A few years ago, when tensions were escalating between China and Taiwan, I met a colleague from the Chinese Studies department of my university in the hallway who told me how deeply concerned he was about the risk of an armed conflict. With the ignorance of an outsider, I took this lightly; and indeed nothing happened. Now we have changed [...]

Naive or Clever? Good or Evil? Yes or No? The Easy and the Hard Way of Understanding North Korea

Naive or Clever? Good or Evil? Yes or No? The Easy and the Hard Way of Understanding North Korea

After German unification, the West finally had access to the secret archives of its former enemy. East Germany’s Ministry of State Security had committed acts that still keep courts and public opinion busy. The sheer degree to which the state had attempted to monitor, document and influence the actions of hundreds of thousands of its citizens [...]

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