Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim Killing

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim KillingSouth and North Korean diplomats are battling to persuade Malaysian authorities of diametrically different versions of the February 13 Kuala Lumpur International Airport assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who had exiled himself out of a well-founded belief he could be murdered. One result may have been to stall the investigation,…

Trump Appointees Rattle Rockets

Trump Appointees Rattle RocketsThe incoming US defense secretary, James Mattis, made headlines in the US by differing from President-elect Donald Trump in his harsh assessment of the aggressive policy of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, but lost in the verbiage was his measured view of the rhetoric of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. If Mattis,a retired four-star Marine general, described…

Trump’s Korean Conundrum

Trump’s Korean ConundrumWhen President-elect Donald Trump met with Barack Obama in his first conversation since the US election, the outgoing president warned him that one of the biggest crises he faces is on the Korean peninsula, where Kim Jong-un’s penchant for nuclear adventurism could flare up during the US Presidential transition. It’s difficult to say, however, which…

Opinion: Former US Ambassador Laments ‘Failures’ on North Korea

Opinion: Former US Ambassador Laments ‘Failures’ on North KoreaI often refer to North Korea as "the longest running failure in the history of US intelligence." I can say that because as a CIA officer, I fruitlessly pursued the North Koreans for many years. As a diplomat, I can also say that North Korea has been almost a total failure of our diplomacy. As…

North Korea’s Nuclear Test Deepens Chinese Dilemma

North Korea’s Nuclear Test Deepens Chinese DilemmaNorth Korea again surprised the world on Jan. 6 by claiming that it had tested a miniature hydrogen bomb. While the actual type of bomb has yet to be confirmed, news of the test sent shockwaves reverberating around the world, especially for North Korea’s lead ally, China. By defying China’s explicit advice against further nuclear…

North Korea’s Limitations Start to Show

North Korea’s Limitations Start to ShowThe bloodcurdling threats against the South emanating from North Korea are all too familiar, but ironically the repeat performance only underlines the North’s weakness. A changing global landscape for the Koreas, especially weakening Chinese support for Pyongyang, is making the North Korean threat increasingly hollow. On Aug. 20 North Korea declared a “quasi state of…

Is Korean Unification Possible?

Is Korean Unification Possible?The outset of 2015 has seen a spate of new developments on and around the Korean peninsula. However, the interests of Washington and Seoul are subtly out of synch. The Sony hacking was a major watershed in the history of cyberwarfare: a highly-destructive attack on an iconic Japanese company operating on US soil. The Obama…

North Korean Purges Threaten Relations with China

North Korean Purges Threaten Relations with ChinaIn a country where purges are as commonplace as polling in democratic countries, the summary execution of North Korea’s number two figure Jang Song Thaek, 67, was breathtaking in its brutality. Jang's extensive tentacles of his power and influence, as well as his reported close relations with powerful neighbor China, makes this purge akin to…

North Korea and History

North Korea and HistoryNorth Korea appears to be continuing its slow, steady recovery from the depth of the leadership crisis that began when Kim Jong-Il died on Nov. 17, 2011. The unexpected stability brought on by the new young leader, Kim Jong-un, now 30, is confounding those who expected an apocalyptic collapse. The North’s controversial missile and nuclear…