‘God Help the North Koreans When They Get Their Own McDonalds’: Peter Beck in DC

Peter Beck, based at Stanford, has been busy accumulating excellent data about integration of North Korean refugees (talbukkja) into South Korea, the impact of foreign media in North Korea, and North Korea more generally, and producing a number of important publications.  He isn’t as flashy (or as snarky) as Brian Myers or (like the rest of us) as productive as the unstoppable “Big Red Machine” of Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard, but his work is really solid and his career is definitely one to watch.

Although the event occurred in January 2010 in the American hauptstadt, Washington D.C., scholar Peter Beck’s presentation about preparations for Korean unification — video thanks to C-SPAN — is absolutely worth a viewing.  For those interested more specifically in Sino-North Korean relations, Beck gets around to this topic (prompted by a question) around 35:35 in the film, and then takes a question from a State Department official about China’s possible behavior in a unification scenario starting at 41:00.  He also makes note of a quiet visit of American corporate leaders (including Ross Perot, Jr.) to Pyongyang in December 2009, something NK Economy Watch had eyes on at the time.  And Don Kirk shows up and perpetrates an intellectual mugging of Beck (e.g., gets productively intellectually pugilistic) at about 49:00.

Beck’s homepage carries links to a number of articles, but probably of most interest is this presentation on human rights policy dilemmas with North Korea.

When is someone going to develop a system of scholarly statistics or a kind of “fantasy league”, anyway?  As I’m sure Stanford would argue, Beck would be a good pickup.

Stanford U./Hoover Institution; photo by Adam Cathcart

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