Korean Ephemera

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Rudiger Frank, the astute analyst of the North Korean economy, writes one of the best essays I’ve read on the last ten years of the DPRK.  Frank describes the push and pull of economic reforms in North Korea and delves into how Western pressure or incentives shape/encourage changes in the reclusive state.  Frank is also an important historian who spent a couple of years pulling together a great deal of data about East German aid to North Korea and thFoe reconstruction of Hamhung after the Korean War.  In terms of North Korean interactions with outsiders, his is an authoritative voice.

Andrei Lankov has a worthy new essay out reprising his view of reform=collapse in North Korea; available here as pdf.  Slightly less fungible but interesting anyway is Lankov’s Russian-language blog.  

Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung is very ill.  Is it possible that of the three living Korean heads of state to have had North-South summits — Kim Jong Il and Kim Dae Jung (2000) and Roh Moo-hyun (2007) — none will be alive by the end of 2009?Death adds urgency to everything, and one wonders how close Bill Clinton is getting to the inner circle in Pyongyang.  

One mustn’t forget that Clinton hosted some high-level Korean People’s Army brass in his office in the thaw of the year 2000.   Although the photo was page one of New York Times on the date of the meeting, it is difficult to find the image online.  Perhaps after consulting my still-extant archive of actual physical newspaper clippings from that period, I shall return with a scan.  Keep an eye open for analyses of the year 2000!  

And some thoughts on why we should not fear a North Korean collapse, courtesy John Bolton and Nicholas Eberstadt in the Wall Street Journal.  Why is it that everyone talks about China fearing a horde of refugees coming over the Yalu and Tumen rivers, yet does virtually zero analysis of actual conditions along the portions of northeast China?  It seems that such information might be useful in assessing Chinese posture and outlook on the problem.  Absorbing a few tens of thousands of refugees into the huge region of Manchuria might not be such a big deal after all. 

Veteran journalist Todd Crowell reflects, rather ominously, on how the U.S. might strike North Korea from Japanese air bases.  

This exhibition of North Korean political posters is certainly worthwhile.

And a new blog on North Korea and China has appeared like a light over Mount Paektu!   I anticipate it will be one to watch.

The Author

Lecturer of Chinese history at University of Leeds, and Editor-in-Chief of SinoNK.com.