What drives Pyongyang’s nuclear demonstrations?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un makes a congratulatory visit to the Ministry of People's Armed Forces, the Korean Central News Agency reported, 10 January 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Liang Tuang Nah, RSIS

Shortly after North Korea detonated a nuclear device at 10am local time on 6 January 2016, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) proclaimed that the device was a hydrogen bomb, and that such devices served as defence against external enemies. Read more…

US North Korea policy should acknowledge past success

North Korean army solider look southern side as U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visits at the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Stephen Costello, Washington

Following the latest North Korean nuclear test on 6 January, the Obama administration has resuscitated the Bush administration’s flawed expectation that China act in place of the United States in negotiating with North Korea. This expectation will be exposed as lacking insight into China’s foreign policy view and any real strategic logic for the actors involved. Read more…

North Korea still stable despite external vulnerabilities

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks at the 4th Conference of Korean People's Army Artillery Personnel in April 2015. (Photo: AAP via KCNA.)

Authors: Chung-in Moon, Yonsei University; and Ildo Hwang, Donga Ilbo

North Korea seems to have had an internally stable 2015. Its economy is far from faltering and Kim Jong-un has firmly consolidated his power base. There were no explicit signs of internal challenge. Kim is both reigning and ruling. But Pyongyang’s provocative behaviour in the international domain could produce severe consequences for North Korea. Uncertainty remains high. Read more…

Slow progress for North Korea’s cautious reforms

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on December 4, 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspecting the 122 tree nursery plant of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photo AFP/KCNA via KNS).

Author: Andrei Lankov, Kookmin University

What does the future hold for North Korea? Sometime ago, I had the relatively rare opportunity to have a free chat with a North Korean merchant. A woman in her forties, the wife of a mid-ranking official, is running an import business dealing in consumption goods. Read more…

Will North Korea embrace market reform?

This undated picture, released from North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on 27 November 2015, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspecting the Wonsan shoe factory in Kangwon province, North Korea. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Khang Vu, Colby-Sawyer College

Since Kim Jong-un inherited the throne from his father in 2011, there has been widespread debate over the possibility of North Korean economic reform. A 2015 report on the North Korean economy pointed to domestic markets expanding both in size and quantity, despite periods of government suppression. Read more…

South Korea’s secret weapon against the North

South Korean army soldiers stand guard on Unification Bridge, which leads to the demilitarized zone, near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, 24 August 2015. Marathon negotiations by senior officials from the Koreas stretched over three days as the rivals tried to pull back from the brink. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sangsoo Lee, ISDP

On 25 August 2015, top-level negotiators from the North and South Korea reached a six-point agreement in the aftermath of a period of high military tension, which began when a landmine exploded in the Demilitarized Zone on 4 August, wounding two South Korean soldiers. Accusing North Korea of an unprovoked attack, South Korea responded by resuming anti-North Korea propaganda broadcasts for the first time since 2004. Read more…

China isn’t about to abandon North Korea

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of China's victory against Japan in World War II on 3 September 2015. The prominent position given to South Korean President Park Geun-hye is the latest sign of deteriorating relations between China and North Korea. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kevin Gray, University of Sussex

Much has been made of the recent cooling of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea and Beijing’s increased emphasis on Seoul. Deteriorating relations since 2012 were confirmed most recently by South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s prominent position at China’s 70th anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II. For those looking forward to North Korea’s rapid demise and to the reunification of the peninsula on Seoul’s terms, this growing distance between Beijing and Pyongyang has been greeted with cautious optimism. Read more…