David C. Kang

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People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast of a military parade held in Pyongyang, North Korea, at a railway station in Seoul on April 26. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

The United States has “high expectations for working with the Yoon administration on issues related to the Korean Peninsula”, the United States’ top envoy for North Korea stated while in Seoul last week. But those expectations may be misplaced, given that Washington appears unwilling to prioritize stabilization through a more flexible diplomatic strategy.

To be sure, Seoul is taking a similar line. South Korea’s incoming conservative president Yoon Suk-yeol has promised to be tough on North Korea. Pledging to “teach [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] some manners”, the Yoon administration brings with it hopes of a more pliant North, in contrast with South Korea’s outgoing Moon Jae-in administration, which was more focused on dialogue and engagement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Major Gen. Kim Do-gyun of South Korea, center, shaking hands with a North Korean officer as he crossed the military demarcation line in June. South Korean Defense Ministry, via Getty Images

South Korea and North Korea recently announced plans for a third summit meeting between their two leaders, to take place in Pyongyang in September. From family reunions to fielding a joint sports team in the upcoming Asian Games, the two Koreas are moving forward with steps to further détente on the peninsula.

By contrast, the United States has done very little in the two months since the Singapore summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to advance the relationship.

The United States appears to be waiting for the North to take the next step. But the Trump administration is ignoring the reality that to reach a final deal on the eventual denuclearization of North Korea, the United States must give something substantial in return.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kim Jong-un at a military parade in North Korea in April. Credit Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

North Korea is not a problem that can be solved. As much as the West may engage in wishful thinking about a revolution, the Kim family regime has survived far longer than almost anyone predicted. Even today, it shows no signs of collapsing, and the North Koreans show no signs of rebelling en masse.

Does anyone actually think that with another round of sanctions the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, will suddenly give up power and North Koreans will all become liberal democrats? Or that somehow Washington could brandish enough aircraft carriers that the North Korean military and political establishment will surrender?…  Seguir leyendo »

Speculation has been rampant over what exactly has happened to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After all, Kim hasn't been seen in public in over a month, and the country's media took the unusual step of admitting that Kim is in an "uncomfortable physical condition." Some commentators believe this suggests Kim might be more seriously ill than the country is letting on. But others have speculated something more dramatic might have occurred -- namely a coup.

Does the evidence back this up? The short answer is, no.

For a start, there have been no unusual military or troop movements inside North Korea, particularly tied to the Pyongyang defense command or other key military units.…  Seguir leyendo »