Katharine H.S. Moon

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Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum during a visit to Hanoi in 2019. (Jorge Silva/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, with no formal peace in sight. The mass bloodshed ended with a truce in 1953, but threats and tensions on the peninsula persist. Most recently, North Korea blew up the inter-Korean Joint Liaison Office on June 16. The building was a symbol of a “new era of peace” ushered in by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at their historic summit on April 27, 2018.

The destruction of the liaison office reflects a hot-cold pattern of political tactics and is not a serious event.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Koreans relish the element of surprise when they get to choose the stage and command the theatrics. The unexpected visit of three top North Korean leaders to the closing ceremony of the Asian Games in Incheon last week stole the show from the athletes.

The three visitors — Hwang Pyong-so, Vice Chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, and two other senior officials from the Workers’ Party of Korea, Choe Ryong-hae and Kim Yang-gon — met with the South Korean prime minister, national security adviser to the president, and the head of the Ministry of Unification. It was a rather merry occasion, with leaders on both sides promising to meet again next month and offering abundant smiles and handshakes for the cameras.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two weeks ago, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the U.S. lead in the six-party talks, went to Pyongyang for a sudden and highly secret meeting with North Korean officials. But even if we get closer to breaking the impasse over the North's nuclear possessions and ambitions, the problem of North Korean human rights will loom large as the world continues to learn about the starvation, lack of political and religious freedoms, mass imprisonment, executions, infanticide and other horrors occurring in North Korea.

The lack of access to information about human rights problems is one obstacle. Another is the multifaceted nature of the problems and the diversity of human rights actors, claims and political agendas.…  Seguir leyendo »