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  • Author: James F. Durand
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines North Korea’s dispatch of pilots, psychological operations, and tunneling specialists to aid the Democratic Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Growing American and South Korean involvement in Vietnam provided an opportunity for North Korea’s increasingly assertive military leaders to better understand their adversaries. Pyongyang’s secret deployment was facilitated by the “Partisan Generals,” who sought to fight the Americans in the sky, demoralize the South Koreans on the ground, and perfect the techniques of underground warfare. North Korea provided material assistance that was significant given its limited resources. Additionally, North Korea detained South Korean Prisoners of War captured by the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong. English, Korean, and Vietnamese language materials are used throughout this paper.
  • Topic: Cold War, Conflict, Vietnam War, Psychological Operations, Prisoners of War
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Vietnam, United States of America
  • Author: Michael MacArthur Bosack
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: The United Nations Command is the multinational headquarters that led the allied forces in the Korean War. The command’s Military Armistice Commission supervises the Armistice Agreement. While the United Nations Command and its activities are common knowledge in the Republic of Korea, the command’s long-standing organization and functions in Japan are less well known. This relationship began in 1950 and is codified in the 1954 United Nations-Japan Status of Forces Agreement. The command’s rear area headquarters, the aptly named United Nations Command-Rear Headquarters, has managed this relationship since 1957. After decades of few changes, the United Nations Command and its Sending States broadened traditional roles and missions from Japan beginning in the early 2000s. This led to expanded activities within the legal framework and security mandate governing the United Nations Command’s relationship with Japan, strengthening Japan’s ties with the command’s member states, and supporting the “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea. This paper examines the relationship between the United Nations Command and Japan, beginning with the institutions and interests underpinning the relationship. Next, it describes the Status of Forces Agreement and how the relationship functions. The paper concludes with a discussion of relevant policy issues, limitations to greater cooperation, and opportunities for expanded roles within the framework of the relationship.
  • Topic: International Relations, History, Military Affairs, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United Nations, United States of America
  • Author: Jonathan Lim
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: This paper conceptualizes the emerging détente within inter-Korean relations as evidence of tangible transformations within North Korea’s domestic and foreign policy, establishing how this phenomenon represents a unique and conclusive opportunity for peace and engagement. It contextualizes the inter-Korean and Singapore summits as foundations for the détente, before expanding upon the nature of the détente through the contrasting objectives of North and South Korea, and the transitional nature of domestic affairs in North Korea. The article establishes the bona fide nature of North Korea’s détente, as revealed by a direct connection between North Korea’s international diplomatic gestures vis-av-vis transitional domestic circumstances; involving incremental economic modernization and political liberalization under a shift in focus within Kim Jong-un’s Byungjin Line policy. This analysis departs from and orthodox Western interpretation of inter-Korean relations, providing a holistic analysis of inter-Korean affairs and North Korean domestic politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Singapore
  • Author: Troy Stangarone
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: Following a relatively successful period for U.S.-South Korea economic relations under the Bush and Obama administrations, Washington and Seoul have entered a new period of economic tension in the Trump administration. Unlike prior U.S. presidents, who placed a priority on negotiating fair rules in the United States’ economic relationships, President Trump has prioritized outcomes. As a result, one of his administration’s earliest moves was to renegotiate the KORUS Free Trade Agreement. While the results of the renegotiation were modest, they may help to expand the sale of American automobiles in the Republic of Korea in the long-run. The largest outcome of the negotiations may be to protect the Ford Motor Company from South Korean competition in the U.S. market as the company transitions to sales focused on light trucks. While the renegotiation has eased tensions for the moment, the prospect of economic engagement with North Korea, the Trump administration’s continued use of national security to erect trade barriers, and the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles could result in growing tensions in the relationship.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Negotiation, Free Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michelle R. Palumbarit
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the evolution of Korean Studies in the Republic of the Philippines. Despite a security relationship with the United Nations Command that dates to the earliest days of the Korean War, neither the government nor academic institutions considered establishing Korean Studies programs for nearly half a century. South Korean companies invested heavily in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations in the 1990s, leading to the arrival of entrepreneurs, tourists, and retirees. This created a demand for Korean language education to support the increased business activities and employment opportunities that accompanied Korean investment. Although the pattern of South Korean trade and investment activity in the Philippines was similar to its Southeast Asian neighbors, the establishment of Korean Studies in the Philippines occurred later than similar programs in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Nonetheless, the Korean Studies programs in the Philippines paralleled the development of programs in other Southeast Asian nations with language training classes leading to broader studies of Korean history, economy, politics and culture.
  • Topic: Education, History, Bilateral Relations, Academia
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Philippines, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: George Hutchinson
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: The international community’s confrontation with North Korea reached crisis proportions in 2017, following Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches and its sixth nuclear test. In the wake of a series of high-level summits, tensions began to thaw in 2018. At the inter-Korean summit in Panmunjom on April 27, 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to seek support from the international community to denuclearize. But the international community, led by the U.S. in concert with the United Nations Security Council, has already worked tirelessly over the past 26 years to coordinate efforts to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. Successive U.S. administrations have worked through the cycle of confrontation, crisis, discussions and agreements with North Korea. Nonetheless, all these agreements have ultimately fallen apart, allowing North Korea to advance its nuclear program. This paper focuses on two key questions: How has the international community contributed toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and what is its role in facilitating the complete, verifiable dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program? Ultimately, the success of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula will be measured by whether North Korea completely dismantles its nuclear program. Fortunately, the international “tools” are on the table, but successfully denuclearizing North Korea will, in the end, be a matter of effectively enforcing existing international measures.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, United Nations, Sanctions, Nonproliferation, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Soyoung Kwon
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: The view of convergence in terms of how former socialist countries change invites questions about cases of non-transition and their typological regime features. This paper examines the North Korean regime to assess its unique path of post-communist transition and analyzes behavioral explanations for the divergent outcome. A combination of institutional and behavioral features point to a countryspecific development, which may have taken a distinctive path due to different historical experiences, leadership features, legitimation, and political culture. This also invites a new comparative perspective on the remaining socialist countries in Asia in order to discuss the prospects and challenges of political change within the framework of transition from the authoritarian rule.
  • Topic: Politics, Regime Change, Authoritarianism, Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Gary J. Sampson
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: In 2017, North Korea under Kim Jong-un has made significant strides toward the capabilities needed for a credible nuclear deterrent. This article analyzes the most recent achievements of the North Korean nuclear weapons program, including its September 2017 nuclear test and its three long-range missile tests in the latter half of 2017. Observers should not discount Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. However, other capabilities such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and targeting require further development to achieve the full range of capabilities associated with a credible nuclear deterrent. Because of the high costs associated with the development of robust strategic intelligence and targeting capabilities, Pyongyang may be willing to settle for lower levels of capability in these areas, which may still be sufficient to guide nuclear attacks. As a result, policymakers must move to a bargaining strategy that acknowledges the reality of North Korea’s nuclear capability, marking a significant policy shift among regional allies. Pyongyang’s long-held desire to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its regional allies may be coming to fruition. Kim Jong-un has shrewdly played his hand from a position of weakness and succeeded where many others failed—a high-risk path upon which he still walks. China’s minimum credible nuclear deterrent may be a model for Kim Jong-un’s development of North Korean nuclear capability.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons, Surveillance, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Gabriel Jonsson
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the United Nations Development Programme’s role in South and North Korea’s economic development. The UNDP is not only the UN’s lead agency for economic and social development, it is one of the few UN organizations to have worked with both countries in traditional bilateral arrangements, as well as a in multilateral initiative. Operating in South Korea from 1963 to 2009, the UNDP contributed to the nation’s economic development by complimenting the government’s policies. However, its role was minor compared to the government’s own actions. Nonetheless, South Korea has served on the UNDP board four times since its UN admission in 1991, raising the country’s diplomatic standing. After North Korea joined the UNDP in 1979, the organization’s work in the country focused on improving food production and supporting industrial development. These activities helped improve the economic crisis since the 1990s. In the 1990s, the UNDP provided humanitarian assistance and scholarships to develop human resources. Pyongyang officials restricted the UNDP’s work throughout the time it was active in North Korea. These violations led the UNDP to suspend operations in 2007. Since the early 1990s, the UNDP has supported the Tumen River Area Development Program, the only initiative that involved the two Koreas, as well as China, Russia and Mongolia. Although the UNDP facilitated initial contacts, it was unable to overcome longstanding animosities and disagreements. The successor Greater Tumen Initiative continues to languish.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, United Nations, United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United Nations
  • Author: Noam Hartoch, Alon Levkowitz
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests during the Kim Jong-un era have strengthened the country’s military power, deterring South Korea, Japan and, in particular, the United States. While North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities are rapidly improving, parallel developments aren’t occurring in the traditionally technical air and air defense forces. Plagued with aging airframes, technical problems, parts shortages and budget shortfalls, the North Korean Air Force no longer challenges the South Korean and American air forces. This paper examines the North Korean Air Force, analyzing its organization and deployment, air defense and early warning capabilities, aircraft acquisition, and aircraft production. Shortfalls in each of these areas caused Pyongyang to develop, test, and operate an increasingly sophisticated drone fleet. While North Korea won’t be able to build a state-of-the-art aircraft industry, it will nonetheless find creative ways to strengthen its air force capabilities.
  • Topic: Nuclear Power, Weapons , Drones, Missile Defense, Air Force
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, South Korea, North Korea, Poland, Soviet Union, New Zealand, United States of America
  • Author: Roberta Cohen
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: When a typhoon struck North Korea’s northeast in September 2016, it flooded not only schools, health clinics, roads and agricultural lands, but also a reeducation through labor camp housing political prisoners. This presented a challenge to United Nations humanitarian agencies: should they overlook the plight of those in the flooded camp in the interests of working cooperatively with the government, or should they seek to gain entry to all disaster victims in line with the UN’s humanitarian principles? Their decision to ignore the imprisoned victims highlights the need for better integration of human rights concerns into humanitarian action through strengthened cooperation between human rights and humanitarian actors, backup from senior UN officials, and the application of the UN Human Rights Up Front approach to North Korea.
  • Topic: Human Rights, United Nations, Political Prisoners
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Robert Collins
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: Rescuing inmates from North Korea's vast political prison system presents significant challenges for American and South Korean political and military leaders. The lives of prisoners would be immediately threatened in the event of war or the collapse of the Kim Family Regime, as former camp guards who defected to the Republic of Korea have testified to this effect. The events that would threaten the prisoners' lives would occur at a time when the military assets needed for their rescue are in most demand. Defending Seoul and treating civilian casualties will remain priorities for military commanders, who will find it difficult to divert the specially trained troops, air support and logistical resources required to neutralize camp guards, secure the prisons, and provide immediate aid to the inmates. Yet, rescuing the inmates would provide benefits, including gaining the support from a wary North Korean population and legitimizing post-crisis reunification efforts. Because of the strategic implications of this decision, only the American and South Korean presidents could authorize such a mission.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Regime Change, Prisons/Penal Systems, Political Prisoners
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Greg Scarlatoiu
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: North Korea officially dispatches over 60,000 workers to a minimum of 20 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The regime confiscates much of the USD 200 million earned by these workers annually. Despite the known exploitation and hardship, North Koreans continue to covet these positions, which provide rare opportunities to spend time outside the world’s most isolated dictatorial regime and send small amounts of money to their families at home. Only those deemed loyal to the regime as measured by North Korea’s songbun system have access to these jobs. Even those with “good songbun” frequently bribe government officials to secure one of the few positions available. Once overseas, workers labor under harsh and dangerous conditions that border on slavery. North Korea’s pervasive security apparatus continues to survey all activities while spouses and children serve as de facto hostages to prevent defections. The Kim Family Regime’s dispatch of workers amounts to exporting its subjects as a commodity. Efforts to address this issue must be based on applicable international standards. Governments bound by international agreements should first seek redress, as difficult as it may be, before terminating the contracts that cover North Korea’s overseas workers.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Labor Issues, Economy, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Gordon G. Chang
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: China is playing a duplicitous game when it comes to North Korea. It proclaims it is enforcing Security Council resolutions when it is in fact not. The Chinese have overwhelming leverage over the North, but they will not use their power to disarm the Kim Family regime, at least in the absence of intense pressure from the United States. Beijing believes Pyongyang furthers important short-term Chinese objectives, and so views it as a weapon against Washington and others. Beijing’s attempts to punish Seoul over its decision to accept deployment of the THAAD missile defense system reveal true intentions.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Authoritarianism, Weapons , Missile Defense, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: James F. Durand
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: With nearly 900,000 long-term residents, Japan has one of the largest populations of overseas Koreans. Japan is unique in that it is the only country that further classifies its Korean residents by external political affiliation; i.e., those not adopting Japanese nationality are affiliated with the Korean Residents Union of Japan (Mindan) or the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), organizations that are linked to South and North Korea, respectively. The status of Korean residents in Japan, and both organizations supporting them, is a product of Japan’s complex relationship with the Korean Peninsula during the last century. American concerns about Japan’s Korean residents—both as an occupying power and a treaty ally—add another dimension to what should have been a domestic or bilateral issue between the Government of Japan, its Korean residents, and North or South Korea. Chongryon’s long-term financial, material, and technical support to Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs highlighted the differences between all governments. However, Pyongyang’s admission that it abducted Japanese citizens has brought about significant changes in the Japanese government’s policies toward North Korea and Chongryon. These include the suspension of ferry services between the two countries and limiting remittances to North Korea. As the Trump Administration considers tighter sanctions as part of its North Korean strategy, the history of the Japan’s relations with its proPyongyang residents provides a cautionary tale about the international community’s ability to use sanctions as a means to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile ambitions.
  • Topic: Immigration, Sanctions, Weapons , Ethnicity, Abductions
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Seongwhun Cheon
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: Managing a nuclear-armed North Korea is South Korea’s grand strategy to protect the nation’s vital security interest in the short term and achieve peaceful unification in the long term. Its foundation rests on two pillars of containing the North’s military expansion and nuclear coercion, and promoting constructive changes in North Korean society. This strategy of management is neither appeasement based on unfounded optimism of the North Korean leadership nor an intimidation tactic to overthrow the Kim Family Regime. Under the assumption that genuine peace or national integration is not possible unless North Korea is denuclearized and its society transformed, it is a strategy that exercises full vigilance toward the North and applies all available means and methods to reduce political and military threats from Pyongyang. It also patiently encourages gradual and fundamental changes in North Korea as the ultimate path to a denuclearized and unified Korean peninsula. The management strategy understands that no dialogue with North Korea could resolve the nuclear problem at a single stroke, and thus, it keeps expectations low and objectives achievable. It does not anticipate a sweeping deal to denuclearize North Korea.
  • Topic: Nuclear Power, Grand Strategy, Peace, Deterrence, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Gabriel Jonsson
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: South Korea has been board member of the UN Commission on Human Rights and member of the UN Human Rights Council serving as Chairman of the latter in 2016. Both organizations have been characterized by politicization, which undermines their work. However, no such example was found related to their work on human rights in North Korea. Although South Korea’s position on North Korean human rights issues had been inconsistent previously, Seoul has consistently supported UN resolutions since 2008. North Korea has rejected criticism from the UN of its human rights record. Work by the UN and South Korea on the North Korean human rights issue has failed to improve the situation. Regardless, these efforts have increased global awareness of North Korea rights violations and exerted some pressure on Pyongyang to address the situation. South Korea strengthened its commitment in this area when the National Assembly enacted the North Korean Human Rights Act in 2016. Realists’ and liberals’ views of international cooperation form the theoretical framework of the study.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Cooperation, United Nations, UN Human Rights Council (HRC)
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Randall Ireson
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: Modern farming in Korea has followed two divergent paths since the partition of the peninsula. Both countries substantially raised agricultural production in the 1970s, but policy decisions in North Korea created a situation in which the farm sector stagnated and ultimately failed when faced with changes in the 1990s. In addition to reviewing the technical and policy changes since the start of the food crisis, this paper examines the likely consequences of reunification on the North Korean farm sector. Structural changes would include the dominance of a market economy, dissolution of cooperative and state farms, and the need to recapitalize the entire farm economy. Organizational changes regarding land tenure, operation and management of formerly collective resources, and new roles for former North Korean agricultural guidance and research organizations would be challenging. Rural residents would face personal challenges of adapting to the requirements and thinking patterns of a market economy, coupled with the loss of close technical direction by the North Korean planning system. Although there are opportunities for enhanced farm productivity and economic well being at the household level, smoothly adapting to reunification would greatly depend on planning, policies and resources set in place for such an event.
  • Topic: Agriculture, History, Famine, Economy
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Shawn P. Creamer
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: The theater-level command relationships in the Republic of Korea are complex and nuanced. They are often misunderstood by American and South Korean military and civilian leaders. Available open source resources often focus on specific elements of the command relationships, sometimes over-relying on official rhetoric from the respective commands. These narratives don’t provide a complete picture of how these distinct organizations work together towards the common goal of defending South Korea from North Korean aggression. This paper consolidates and amalgamates relevant open source resources to provide clarity to what was previously an opaque understanding of the interconnected, yet distinct relationships between the four concurrently operating theater-level commands that have roles in defending South Korea. In particular, this paper dissects each command’s roles, its relationships with the commands, and guidance and direction governing each command.
  • Topic: United Nations, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Alliance
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Greg Scarlatoiu
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was a great admirer of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, attempting to duplicate the personality cult, national-Communism and other aspects of the North Korean dynastic totalitarian regime. Systematic human rights violations were common in both countries. Despite the relentless repression, indoctrination and surveillance, there are several factors that could potentially erode the Kim Family Regime’s grip on power, including informal marketization and increased information inflow from the outside world. As such, Romania provides an important precedent for the current situation in North Korea. Of particular note, understanding those factors that conferred legitimacy on the Romanian military enables a deeper appreciation of the military’s role in the anti-communist revolution and turbulent times that followed. Kim Jong-il learned from the Romanian experience, adopting a military first policy in North Korea. In contrast, Kim Jong-un has attempted to return some power to the Korean Workers Party. Kim Jong-un’s success in gaining the support of the country’s elites would be a key factor in avoiding a Romanian-style revolution and obliteration of the top leadership.
  • Topic: Human Rights, History, Regime Change, Authoritarianism, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Romania