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  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), with the generous support of the Korea Foundation, organized six “Vision Group” roundtable conversations with leading American scholars and commentators to discuss the United States’ relationship with the Republic of Korea. The first was held in December 2019, the last in November 2020. The intent was to consider the future of relations during a time of change. The Vision Group comprised a wide range of expertise and opinion. This record conveys some of the insights and recommendations that arose during the conversations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Liudmila Zakharova
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The New Northern Policy, proclaimed by the South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Vladivostok in September 2017, is designed to boost economic cooperation between Russia and South Korea. However, two years after a special presidential committee was created to plan and coordinate joint economic efforts, few results have been achieved. Bilateral trade has continued to increase with limited change to its structure: Russia mostly sends its mineral resources to South Korea and receives industrial products in return. New ROK investment in the Russian Far East has yet to occur, despite South Korea’s efforts to assist its businesses in finding profitable Russian projects. Seoul tried to convince Moscow that concluding a free trade agreement in the near future is necessary for intensified cooperation, but Russia prefers a more gradual approach to trade liberalization. InterKorean rapprochement in 2018 laid a foundation for further progress in the implementation of multilateral economic projects involving Russia if the international sanctions against North Korea were to be eased. Therefore, bilateral relations between Russia and the ROK can also be viewed from the perspective of promoting regional cooperation with North Korean participation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Bryan Port
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: A coherent North Korea strategy must proceed from a theory of North Korean politics, strategy, and decision-making. Structured analytic techniques, particularly the analysis of competing hypotheses (ACH), are instrumental in developing a theory and strategy. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs serve a blend of internal and external purposes. A successful strategy that renders North Korean denuclearization must account for both types of purposes, determining which of the two are predominant. Applying ACH can assist in making such an assessment, setting a level of confidence, designing a strategy, and determining measures to assess the analytic foundation of the strategy and the measures used in executing the strategy. This paper tees up four potential hypotheses intended to explore North Korean intentions and assist in developing strategy. However, the intention of the paper is not primarily to make a case for a given hypothesis, but rather to explore the method in the hope that others may find the method useful and apply it to the important undertaking of North Korean denuclearization.
  • Topic: International Relations, Weapons , Kim Jong-un, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jeffrey Robertson
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: During 2017-18, international attention turned to the Korean Peninsula as the threat of conflict reached new heights. This led to an explosion in the growth of “North Korea watchers”— the community of scholars, analysts, government officers, NGO advocates, and journalists who commit a portion of their lives to following events in North Korea. Divides emerged in overlapping regional, professional, institutional (political), and linguistic differences that saw individuals take conflicting positions on key issues. This paper investigates just one of these divides—how language and culture impact policy discourse on North Korea. The study explores language as a source of division in the North Korea watching community. It uses Einar Wigen’s argument that international relations should be conceptualized as inter-lingual relations, which suggests that despite the narrowing of political vocabularies, residues of politico-cultural differences remain in how concepts are contextualized into discourse, even between close partners. The study assesses compatibility between English and Korean language conceptualizations of North Korea, through an assessment of core inputs into policy discourse. The study then discusses the implications for U.S.-South Korea relations, and ongoing efforts to strengthen Korean Peninsula security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel Wertz
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign has led to the imposition of a nearly comprehensive international sanctions regime targeting North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. With negotiations underway, the question of whether to provide North Korea with partial sanctions relief in exchange for limited concessions on its nuclear program has been a major point of dispute between Washington and Pyongyang. This paper looks at sanctions as a form of coercive bargaining and examines the logic and challenges behind a strategy of incrementally exchanging relief from pressure for compliance with the sanctioner’s demands. It argues that taking an “all-or-nothing” approach to sanctions relief risks missing an opportunity to reduce the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program and squandering hard-won negotiating leverage, and outlines a framework for how a step-by-step approach might proceed.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel R. Russel
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: After decades of broken promises and failed diplomatic efforts, North Korea has become a nuclear power. Kim Jong Un’s charm offensive over the past year, as seen in summit meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders, has enabled him to shed his pariah status without shedding his nuclear weapons. While Kim has frozen testing, he continues to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal, defy and evade Security Council resolutions, and is now getting support from China in his call for sanctions relief. In the wake of the failed February 2019 Hanoi Summit, North Korea is warning of a return to testing by year’s end. But even if Kim were to reverse course and agree to freeze his entire nuclear and missile program, North Korea’s capacity to threaten the U.S. and its allies with a formidable arsenal would be undiminished. What’s worse, Kim seems to be turning to a powerful new weapon of mass destruction to gain leverage. Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy Daniel Russel asserts in this ASPI issue paper that North Korea’s next weapon of choice is likely to be cyber: a high-impact, low-cost, and low-risk digital-age weapon that North Korea already can and does use to steal money, hack secrets, and terrorize nations. In the 5G era, developed nations such as the United States are particularly vulnerable. North Korean cyber-attacks have already succeeded in crippling critical overseas infrastructure and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, reducing the efficacy of international sanctions. Future Scenarios: What to Expect from a Nuclear North Korea details the consequences of North Korea’s slow but steady trajectory toward acceptance as a nuclear power. The report highlights the urgency of focusing U.S. national security efforts against the threat from North Korea’s rapidly growing cyber warfare capability. Russel writes that the combined threat from North Korea’s nuclear and cyber programs can only be reduced through “coercive containment” — a multi-pronged strategy of diplomacy, defense, deterrence, and denial that will require substantial cooperation among key international players.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Cybersecurity, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, United States of America