North Korea

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Financial Times: North Korea: Glimmer of Hope

Author: Simon Mundy

"After the starvation of up to 1m people in the famine demonstrated the state's inability to feed its people, it was forced to turn a blind eye to the informal markets that sprang up. For residents of cities such as Hyesan, near the border with China, the opportunity to engage in illicit trade with Chinese merchants has been especially lucrative."

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South China Morning Post: Beijing 'Exploring Whether to Change Tactics' Over North Korea Relationship

Author: Teddy Ng

"The motives behind Pyongyang's actions over the past year - from nuclear tests to the high-profile execution of Kim's uncle Jang Song-thaek - have mystified many in the region, including China. Many Chinese scholars and government think tanks say they are being kept in the dark about its latest developments."

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Primary Sources

Report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

On 21 March 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council established the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) through resolution A/HRC/RES/22/13. The commission investigated "the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights" in North Korea and released a report on February 17, 2014 of their findings.

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Does North Korea pose a credible threat to the United States?

Asked by Jonathan Crouse, from Coastal Carolina University

North Korea's capability to threaten the United States comes in two forms:

The possibility that North Korean-origin fissile material could be sent to the United States, either through sale to terrorist groups or by delivering a nuclear device to a U.S. harbor by boat, or;

The ability to threaten U.S. interests abroad, including through renewed conflict on the Korean peninsula, where 28,000 U.S. forces are stationed with the mission of defending South Korea from North Korean aggression.

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What are the costs and benefits of China's relationship with North Korea?

Asked by Garrett Smith, from Stanford University

Chinese officials see stability on the Korean peninsula under the Korean Armistice as a component that has enabled China's growth for over three decades. Despite a growing difference between the economic systems of China and North Korea, China's communist party leadership feels an affinity with North Korea because its government, like China's, pursues one-party leadership under a socialist banner.

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Why should the United States pay attention to the impoverished and economically devastated North Korea?

Asked by Jerome Kennedy, from Massachusetts

North Korea, formally called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), remains a top security concern for the United States, despite its moribund economy. The DPRK poses a serious potential military threat to its neighbors and to U.S. military bases and allies in the Pacific.

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Do North Korea’s nuclear capabilities give it a voice that cannot be ignored?

Asked by Yu Bum Kim, from New York University

Some argue that the best way to restrain North Korea is to strengthen sanctions, principally by putting more pressure on China to reduce its trade with North Korea. Others advocate a diplomatic approach and argue that engagement, not escalation, would be more effective. What all parties need to remember is that actions speak louder than words.

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Which option would be more effective in containing North Korea: Through unity with South Korea, diplomacy, or military intervention?

Asked by Seram Lee, from Pepperdine University

North Korea's ratcheting up of tensions requires South Korean and U.S. military forces in Korea to be prepared to defend against North Korean military incursions. Resumption of diplomacy will only be possible when North Korea signals it is ready to resume dialogue and all parties agree on an agenda that includes both tension-reduction and denuclearization.

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