Obama’s Korean Game Strategy

North Korea is depicted as an irrational provocateur and aggressor in the escalation of threats and military maneuvers over the Korean Peninsula, and of course the regime's rhetoric is being used as proof of the intention to wage war. However, looking at events from a North Korean perspective, what is going on now can also…

North Korea and the Goblet of Fire

North Korea looks perilously close to reliving ugly history, the nightmare that came true in the spring of 1994, a year that people now call the 'North Korean Sea of Fire: Part One.' Given the astonishingly inflammatory language that came out of Pyongyang in recent days, with threats to use nuclear weapons against the United…

Wrong-Headed Condemnation of North Korea

Let us welcome the North Korean nuclear test. The outpouring of outrage from around the world, most of all from the US but also the broader United Nations, is the height of hypocrisy. The kneejerk response makes no effort to understand why the nuclear test is good for reform in that self-benighted country. The current…

Time to Get Tough on North Korea

Fundamental debates and challenges arise in periods of transition, such as the current leadership changes in South Korea, Japan and China. So it is with the North Korean nuclear threat. Pyongyang warned on January 25 that it would conduct a high-level nuclear test targeted at the United States. While few people believe North Korea could…

North Korea Tests China and the World

Repeating the past, North Korea's young ruler Kim Jong Un has threatened the US and South Korea with dire consequences for opposition to the nation's missile adventurism. In a break from the past, Kim issued thinly disguised criticism of North Korea's principal benefactors - China and Russia. The latest turn in North Korea's brinkmanship will…

North Korea’s Gingerly Approach to Tech

The early January visit to North Korea by Google chairman Eric Schmidt has focused attention on North Korea's fledgling attempts - if indeed they are attempts - to steer a cautious course towards opening up the flow of information to some of its citizens. In fact, however, Schmidt and his entourage are not attempting to…

North Korea’s Hidden Famine

Recent foreign visitors to Pyongyang are often impressed by the new construction that seems to be sprouting up everywhere in North Korea's drab capital. New high-rise apartment buildings have been erected, department stores and theaters refurbished and even amusement parks and theme parks opened. "Ever since Kim Jong-un assumed the position of supreme leader, the…

The Aims of North Korea’s Rocket Rattling

The launch of the long-range rocket last week by North Korea dramatically debunks the myth that sanctions imposed by allies of the United States could bring Pyongyang to heel. Taking most North Korea watchers at home and abroad by surprise in terms of its unexpected timing, the successful launch appears to demonstrate that the North…

Behind North Korea’s Rocket Launch

North Korea threw the world a curveball by launching its rocket yesterday, just two days after announcing a delay until December 29 due to technical deficiencies. The timing of the launch is puzzling and abrupt given the failed launch in April and that leadership transitions in North Korea?s neighboring countries have not been solidified. Why…

North Korea Bites the Hand that Feeds It

What is US$40 million to the world’s second largest economy? The number, while not insignificant, is merely a sliver of the nearly US$6 billion in annual bilateral trade between China and its mercurial neighbor, North Korea. Yet the recent news that Beijing and Pyongyang are at loggerheads over a quashed deal to build a Chinese-backed…