America and North Korea

Prior to WWII, Korea had spent several decades under repressive Japanese occupation. Following the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905), Russia and Japan debated splitting Korea into two nations. Just 40 years later a very similar idea was proposed. This time it was carried out. After the Allies won World War II, the Korean peninsula was partitioned into two separate nations along the 38th parallel. By 1947 the Republic of Korea was formed in the south and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north. The agreement left the Soviet Union in charge of the North, while the South would be administered by the United States. Very few Koreans were in favor of splitting the country and in the few years following the 38th parallel partition both sides made attempts to reunify the country. Due to the animosity between each of the administering nations the attempts were unsuccessful.

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. To this day, it claims that the United States was the first aggressor. With the backing of the United Nations, the United States came to the aid of South Korea, sending large numbers of ground troops to the peninsula. On the other side, the North Koreans had strong support from the Chinese and Soviets. After three years of fighting across the Korean peninsula and eventual stalemate along the 38th parallel, a cease-fire armistice was signed between the belligerents. And despite those three years, the 38th parallel, with a heavily secured and defended demilitarized zone (DMZ), would once again split the two nations. Unknown to many around the world due to the relative peace in the region over the last fifty years, the Korean War has technically never ended. Even in the absence of a full-scale war, the North and South are still at such odds that an official peace agreement has yet to be signed.

Paving the road for this seemingly perpetual divide have been North Korea's ostentatious and brazen leaders.  Beginning with Kim Il-Sung's dictatorship in 1972, the Kim dynasty has remained in place. This form of Communism is based on the "Juche Idea." This ruling philosophy stresses national independence and a belief that man determines everything. It also preaches the superiority of the Korean people. This has aided in keeping the North Korean people enigmatically supportive of the repressive regime as well as isolated from the rest of the world. His son, Kim Jong-Il took over after his father's death in 1994.  Kim Jong-un recently succeeded his father in December 2011.

Because of this ongoing war the United States is still helping to protect the South Koreans, while also hoping to foment an eventual reunification under a strong democracy. Roughly 30,000 American soldiers, working together with the large and advanced South Korean military, are currently stationed there.

Though receiving some economic and military aid from a several other countries, North Korea no longer has the type of alliance that it had during the beginning of the war. However, this has done little to deter the country from building a massive army, developing and testing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and using bellicose language against South Korea and the United States. In the face of strong international criticism, North Korean leaders have shown very few signs of wanting to end the war or even devise a compromise. The words of North Korean Kim Myon-chol underscore the continued hostility:

"On detecting the slightest signs that the US intends to launch a first strike, Kim [Jong-il] would order his armed forces to move first and blaze key US metropolitan targets with high-precision nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), several exploding at high altitudes. It goes without saying that operating nuclear power stations would be prime targets, sitting ducks."

In the wake of Kim Jong-il's death in December 2011, many observers expressed uncertainty as to which direction his son and successor Kim Jong-un would take the country. With the dictator gone, South Koreans and their allies have reason to hope for at least more peaceful and diplomatic relations, perhaps even reunification. But very little is known about Kim Jong-un, and early signs seem to indicate that the nations may still be far from reaching true peace.

The greatest international fear and inhibitor to eventual peace is North Korea's further expansion of its nuclear ambitions. On a domestic level, its extreme isolation and secrecy has added to the haunting mystery of North Korea. It is unknown as to whether Kim Jon-un will continue or even exacerbate the repressive policies of his predecessors. In light of this, people all over the world look on and hope for economic and political liberalization and freedom for the long-oppressed North Korea people.

Currently, there is no consensus among North Korea's adversaries as to what action should be taken. Because of North Korea's attempts to run its dictatorship through fear and vaunting, as well as its acts of verbal and physical aggression against South Korea and the United States, there have been several instances that could have escalated in military action. In both South Korea and the United States, there are those who call for retaliatory action against North Korea. Others argue that, much like the case of the Soviet Union, the world must simply remain calm for the communist system to collapse without a bloody war.

This section explores the unfortunate status quo in the region and the different possible solutions. As tensions remain with military threats against the US or its allies, understanding our historical relationship with North Korea is the first step toward deciding how this delicate situation might be resolved. 

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"North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's death opens a period of intense danger and risk, but also potentially enormous opportunity for America and its allies. Kim's health had obviously been poor for some time, and his regime has worked to ensure an orderly transition to his son, Kim Jong Eun. The Kim family and its supporters, with everything obviously at stake, will work strenuously to convey...

"Stumbed upon (lower case) this fascinating UNHCR chart of countries that have accepted refugees from North Korea. 23 countries have accepted at least one refugee — definitely an international problem."

"To the outside world, the next leader of North Korea is a blank slate, a fat-faced young man in his late 20s who, according to people he went to school with in Switzerland over a decade ago, was a fan of Michael Jordan's. That's pretty much what we know. What we don't know is everything else, including what Kim Jong Un would do running one of the poorest, most isolated countries in the world...

"Say what you will about the death penalty, this is a pretty embarrassing list to be on.

Amnesty's 2010 Death Penalty Report named China as the top executor with thousands of executions. Iran came in second with 252 executions, followed by North Korea at 60, Yemen at 52, USA at 46, Saudi Arabia at 27, Libya at 18 and Syria at 17."

"U.S. troops landed in Korea to begin their postwar occupation of the southern part of that nation, almost exactly one month after Soviet troops had entered northern Korea to begin their own occupation. Although the U.S. and Soviet occupations were supposed to be temporary, the division of Korea quickly became permanent."

"Pyongyang’s precarious power transfer has narrowed China’s goals on the Korean Peninsula, experts here say, turning Beijing from a benefactor and adviser into a protector — concerned foremost with preventing collapse, not pushing for improvement."

"It is time -- well past time, in my view -- for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. At the risk of appearing simplistic and provocative, I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is...

"The nations with the largest numbers of active military personnel generally fall into one of two categories — either the populous and wealthy or the war-torn. China, the United States, and India top the list of the world’s largest militaries in absolute numbers, but Pakistan, Iran, and Vietnam all finish out the top 10. But when the figures are adjusted for the size of the nation’s civilian...

"China is circumventing international sanctions against Iran by enlisting North Korea’s help in providing the Islamic state with its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles and the technical expertise to make those nuclear warhead-capable missiles operational. And now the Communist giant is threatening to come to Iran’s defense should the missile or nuclear sites be attacked."

MSNBC offers a brief and humorous list of some of North Korea's infamous oddities.

"In another double dose of graphics, today we look at the comparison between North and South Korea. This first graphic looks at a number of key metrics like life expectancy, exports, and more. Notice just how far South Korea is ahead in some of the most basic functions of a country. The second graphic focuses solely on the military of each country and how they differ in size and strength....

The United States needs to adopt a wholly different strategy - one that is aimed at bringing down Kim's regime, not propping it up.

"A widespread and unusually resilient computer attack that began July 4 knocked out the Web sites of several government agencies, including some that are responsible for fighting cyber crime, The Associated Press has learned.

The Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and Transportation Department Web sites were all down at varying points over the holiday weekend...

"As NASA retreats from an ambitious human spaceflight program for the foreseeable future, foreign countries are moving ahead with their own multibillion-dollar plans to go to the moon, build space stations and even take the long voyage to Mars.

Although most of the world still lags far behind the United States in space technology and engineering know-how, other nations are engaging in a...

"The following graphic lists the ten most/least corrupt countries based on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2011. The Corruption Perception Index assigns countries and territories with scores between 0 (highly corrupt) and 10 (very clean). New Zealand tops the list as the least corrupt country, while North Korea and Somalia are all the way at the bottom."

"N. Korea always has been a focus of the world news regarding human rights crisis. According to Amnesty International Publications 2010, N. Korea has dealt with a great famine since early 1990s which led up to one million people in death toll.

Lack of food and downfall of economy has been ongoing problem in N. Korea. World Health Organization (WHO) in 2006 reported that N. Korea is in...

The public has been led to believe, however, that the war was, for all practical purposes, over. The truth is, the fighting has never stopped.

Zagoria analyzes the relationships between Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States and some flaws with a book written by Michael Shaller that also discusses United States history in Eastern Asia.

South Korea has abruptly backed off from signing a historic agreement to share military intelligence with Japan in a move that highlights the century-old tensions between the two countries.

"Secret American intelligence assessments have concluded that Iran has obtained a cache of advanced missiles, based on a Russian design, that are much more powerful than anything Washington has publicly conceded that Tehran has in its arsenal, diplomatic cables show.

Iran obtained 19 of the missiles from North Korea, according to a cable dated Feb. 24 of this year. The cable is a...

"As North Koreans face an uncertain future without Kim Jong Il, the world's attention now turns to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, whom the ruling Workers' Party has dubbed the 'great successor.'

'Kim Jong Un's leadership provides a sure guarantee for creditably carrying to completion the revolutionary cause ... through generations,' the party said.

But the younger Kim remains a...

"Little is known about North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who died on Saturday at the age of 69. He rarely spoke in public, almost never traveled abroad and has an official biography that is steeped with propaganda, but lacking in concrete substance. Today’s double dose of graphics contain a factbox about North Korea, a timeline of of Kim Jong-il’s reign and a look at his changed appearance over...

"North Koreans have been introduced to their youthful new leader in a style that befits the last truly totalitarian state on earth. Kim Jong-un, the 'Great Successor', has been hailed variously as a martial genius and the 'outstanding leader of our party, army and people'.

The rise of the younger Kim, officially 29 but possibly only 27, has mirrored his father’s physical decline: last...

"The death of Kim Jong-il provoked uncertainty, anxiety and calls for a peaceful succession on Monday as governments within the region and beyond awaited some signal from North Korea about its nuclear intentions and the prospects, if any, for a new relationship with the world beyond its borders."

"The chart above shows another comparison of the economies of North and South Korea, based on data from Angus Maddison. Between 1950 and the early 1970s, real GDP per capita in South Korea was exactly the same as in North Korea. As South Korea implemented market reforms, its economy and output per person started consistently rising while economic conditions to the north stagnated. After forty...

"North Korea’s official media announced that Kim Jong-il, the country’s long-time leader, died on Saturday of 'physical and mental overwork.' Although Kim had several health problems, particularly after a stroke in August 2008, he had appeared vibrant in recent meetings. As such, the surprise development raises concerns about its impact on Pyongyang’s ongoing leadership transition, regime...

"North Korea said Tuesday it would use nuclear weapons in a 'merciless offensive' if provoked — its latest bellicose rhetoric apparently aimed at deterring any international punishment for its recent atomic test blast."

"The ability to visit a foreign country without the cost and hassle of obtaining a visa is a welcome bonus for any traveller. It is also a barometer of a country's international alliances and relations. A report released on August 25th by Henley & Partners, a consultancy, shows that Britons have the fewest visa restrictions of the 190-odd countries (and territories) for which data are...

Around the globe, speculation is rife about the fate of nuclear-armed North Korea.

"North Korea will have been able to build as many as 48 nuclear weapons by 2015 unless the international community is able to make sanctions already imposed on the regime work."

"The main target of the message, delivered by state television KRT and attributed to the North's National Defence Commission, was South Korea's conservative government headed by President Lee Myung-bak who has pursued a hardline stance against the isolated and impoverished North.

'On this occasion, we solemnly declare with confidence that foolish politicians around the world including...

"North Korea announced Friday that it is withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but does not intend to produce nuclear weapons, according to a statement from the official North Korean news agency KCNA.

In the United States, New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson on Friday prepared for a second round of talks with top diplomats from North Korea.

The statement from North...

"Following the mourning period for former leader Kim Jong Il, North Korean authorities have begun to punish citizens who did not display enough sadness at his death, The Daily NK reported Wednesday."

"North Korea announced plans Friday to blast a satellite into space on the back of a long-range rocket, a provocative move that could jeopardize a weeks-old agreement with the U.S. exchanging food aid for nuclear concessions."

North Korea today risked further international isolation after it claimed to have successfully tested a nuclear weapon as powerful as the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Faced with a starving population, an economy in shambles and longtime communist allies tripping over themselves to embrace capitalism, North Korea's leadership long ago turned weakness into strength by steeling its population for permanent war.

"On November 30, 2009, North Korea launched a surprise confiscatory currency reform aimed at cracking down on burgeoning private markets and reviving socialism. The move predictably set off chaos, and now it appears that the government is in retreat, acquiescing in the reopening of markets. The open question is what impact this episode may have for North Korea's looming leadership transition...

"North Korea's march to launch a rocket or missile in the next few days is being driven by what many analysts say is dictator Kim Jong Il's desire to reassert his power over North Korean society, a grip that has been weakened by his recent illness and the steady rise of market forces in the country.

The launch is expected to occur just before the country's rubber-stamp legislature meets...

"In North Korea's mountainous Hyungsan region, a military academy specializing in electronic warfare has been churning out 100 cybersoldiers every year for nearly two decades."

The parallels to the current situation in Northeast Asia are clear. North Korea, a member of President George W. Bush's axis of evil, wants some form of understanding that it will not be attacked by the United States.

"North Korea escalated the confrontation in the Yellow Sea a significant notch on Tuesday with an artillery barrage on a small South Korean island that set homes ablaze, killed at least two South Korean marines, and injured at least 16 others, including civilians."

"The death of Kim Jong Il opens a new and potentially dangerous period of transition and instability for North Korea and northeast Asia, while also bringing to a halt some progress in improving Pyongyang's relations with the U.S. and South Korea.

Mr. Kim died Saturday of a heart attack while on a train, North Korea's state media said. A television news announcer, dressed in black and...

"With the passing of Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s leadership transition is being formally put into place. Here is a quick abridged graphic highlighting the leadership on the National Defense Commission and the State Party’s Political Bureau and Central Military Commission. Below are links to expanded graphics for the Korean Workers Party, the military/security hierarchy, and North Korea’s state...

"Thousands of North Koreans stood in the giant square in the middle of Pyongyang on Thursday morning to pay final tribute to dictator Kim Jong Il, as leaders of his government formally proclaimed his son as the country's next 'supreme leader.'

North Korean television showed the immense crowd as well as smaller gatherings in plazas in other parts of the city, where people listened to...

"A recent attack paralyzing the computer system of Nonghyup Bank has raised fears about North Korea’s cyber terrorism capabilities, especially following the past North Korean DDoS attacks on July 7, 2009, and March 4, 2011.

Although the two previous DDoS attacks only resulted in confusion for users of major governmental websites, the Nonghyup attack has shocked analysts due to the real...

"North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosive test on October 16, 2006. The estimated yield of the test was less than one kiloton.

In a roundtable discussion with the United States and China in Beijing on April 24, 2003, North Korean officials admitted for the first time that they possessed nuclear weapons. Furthermore, North Korean officials claim to have reprocessed spent...

"WASHINGTON — One day before leaving for Prague to sign an arms-control agreement with Russia, President Obama on Tuesday outlined a major shift in the nation's nuclear security policy that won plaudits from defense experts, nuclear watchdog groups and even a former top Bush-era nuclear security official.

'Like all complicated decisions, it (Obama's policy) has strengths and weaknesses...

"President Barack Obama declared Thursday that the United States will take an expanded role in shaping the Asian Pacific region, with an increased military presence one step of that policy.

'Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in this region,' Obama said in a speech to the Australian Parliament. 'The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay...

History in North Korea is not so much an academic discipline as a political one, and it falls not within the social sciences but within the propaganda apparatus.

"North Korea's new leader is depicted in U.S. intelligence assessments as a volatile youth with a sadistic streak who may be even more unpredictable than his late father, according to U.S. officials.

U.S. intelligence officials say they have limited information about Kim Jong Eun, the youngest son of Kim Jong Il and his anointed successor. The U.S. has had few direct contacts on which...

It is tempting to dismiss North Korea as an absurd little fairyland trapped in some past age. Yet, from near total devastation after the 1950-53 war with South Korea, it has built a standard of living far above other Asian communist states.

"As the 2012 State of the Union approaches, the public continues to give the highest priority to economic issues. Fully 86% say that strengthening the economy should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, and 82% rate improving the job situation as a top priority. None of the other 20 issues tested in this annual survey rate as a top priority for more than 70% of Americans...

"North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic aid. The United States will have to abandon its hostility towards Pyongyang first, North Korea’s KCNA news agency announced today.

'Unless the United States ends its hostile policy and threats towards our Republic, we shall never abandon our nuclear weapons even if the earth should split,' it said.


North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il, who himself inherited power from his father, appears to be paving the way for the man who is believed to be his youngest son to succeed him.

"A free trade agreement with the U.S. more than four years in the making is causing a big political headache for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

On Tuesday, he was scheduled to visit lawmakers in Parliament to try to persuade them to ratify the deal, a step he has never taken before over a single specific issue. Lee is also under pressure in the polls, and facing criticism over...

South Korea's president, Lee Myung-bak is struggling to lead his country through some difficult times. He is faced with the three-fold challenge of handling South Korea's domestic issues, dealing with the threat from North Korea, and figuring out America's role in the situation.

"More than a decade and a half after the Cold War ended, the world's combined stockpile of nuclear warheads remain at a very high level: more than 20,500. Of these, some 4,800 warheads are considered operational, of which nearly 2,000 U.S. and Russian warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice."

"While the Obama administration pursued a policy of 'strategic patience' toward North Korea during its first two years in office, Pyongyang continued to create 'facts on the ground.'

In this period and during the last years of the Bush administration as well, North Korea conducted nuclear weapons tests and flight tests of missiles. It built a uranium enrichment plant and is constructing...

"The 50th anniversary of the North Korean invasion of the South arrives like Act II of the most dramatic fortnight in recent Korean history. First we were treated to the astonishing sight of the leaders of the two Koreas clasping hands at the historic summit in Pyongyang. Then, from the more distant past, came a sobering reminder: these two halves of a divided peninsula fought one of the...

"Relations between the United States and North Korea have seesawed for decades, with neither side fully trusting the carrots the other had offered. In recent years, Kim Jong Il played his one card — his nuclear program — to the hilt. He used it to extract badly needed energy and food assistance from the United States and other countries, all the while developing the program behind the scenes....

North Korea shutters its atomic reactor and is no longer making plutonium for nuclear bombs, prompting aid shipments to flow to the impoverished regime that struggles with shortages of electricity and food.

A new American intelligence analysis of a deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean warship concludes that Kim Jong-il must have authorized the torpedo assault.

"The Pentagon said Monday it plans to participate in new military exercises with South Korea, the first direct military response from the United States to the sinking of a South Korean warship by what officials called a North Korean torpedo."

The United States is preparing for the possibility of nuclear war with North Korea and of a regime collapse in the isolated state, a Washington-based think tank said in a recent report.

"While Beijing pushed for Pyongyang to open up to foreign investors, Washington announced new sanctions that would inevitably impede such plans. Beijing is concerned that North Korea’s deep economic crisis will compound the political instability surrounding any handover of power. According to the Chinese media, discussions between Kim and Chinese leaders focussed on Beijing’s demand for...

The failure of the first round of talks between the United States and North Korea over its nuclear weapons programmes will intensify the debate in Washington over Pyongyang's intentions.

The time is coming fast to decide who is the winner and who the loser in the long-standing conflict between the Korean people and the United States, with a history of a mere 200 years. The Korean people have many scores to settle with the US.

"North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, has been in place for the month since the death of his father was announced.

In that time, the country's tightly-controlled media machine has lavished him with praise, calling him a 'genius' and a 'brilliant' military strategist. Its political structure has also garlanded him with formal titles every bit as extravagant.

But amid all the...

Chart or Graph

"The nations with the largest numbers of active military personnel generally fall into one of two categories — either the populous and wealthy or the war-torn."

"In another double dose of graphics, today we look at the comparison between North and South Korea. This ... graphic looks at a number of key metrics like life expectancy, exports, and more. Notice just how far South Korea is ahead in some of the most basic functions of a country."

"First of all, as of the end of 2008, Germany has granted refugee status to 1390 North Korean refugees."

"Amnesty's 2010 Death Penalty Report named China as the top executor with thousands of executions."

"Certain countries are emerging as clear sources of threats to sensitive data, in particular to intellectual property."

"The North Korean economy was valued at 30,049 billion won (nominal GNI) for 2010, one thirty-ninth (2.6%) the size of the South Korean economy, and its per capita GNI stood at 1.242 million, approximately one nineteenth (5.3%) that of South Korea."

"North Korea's trading volume (goods-based) amounted to 4,170 million dollars during 2010, 1/214 that of South Korea. Its exports rose by 42.5% during the year, and imports by 13.2%."

"When asked which country represents the greatest danger to the U.S., more Americans volunteer Iran (28%) than name any other country, though nearly as many (22%) name China."

"According to data compiled by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) since 1987, the DPRK had a cumulative $1.38 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) as of the end of 2007."

"The following graphic lists the ten most/least corrupt countries based on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2011. The Corruption Perception Index assigns countries and territories with scores between 0 (highly corrupt) and 10 (very clean)."

"Although the geographic areas of both countries are roughly the same, the North Korean population is more than double Cuba’s; by contrast, the Cuban GDP per capita is four times bigger than the DPRK’s individual income (Figure 1)."

"Figure 1 illustrates what appears to be North Korea’s policy cycle."

"Table 3 shows imports of small arms and ammunition by trading partner countries from North Korea from 2001 to 2008."

"The chart above shows another comparison of the economies of North and South Korea, based on data from Angus Maddison."

"The recent tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and disputes between the U.S. and Iran in the Persian Gulf have garnered a good deal of public attention."

"Today’s double dose of graphics contain a factbox about North Korea ... [and] a timeline of Kim Jong-il’s reign...."

Graphed in 1978 by the Central Intelligence Agency, this map of the Korean Peninsula delineates the demilitarized zone between the North and South parts of the country.

"[This] graphic focuses solely on the military of each country and how they differ in size and strength. Although North Korea severely lacks in things like mobile phone subscribers, budget and roads, it’s military is nearly double the size of South Korea’s military."

This chart compares the military size of key countries in the Pacific.

Some basic facts about North Korea.

"Nearly 5 percent of North Korea’s entire population is active-duty military personnel, a rate more than double that of other Asian nations."

"The National Defense Commission constitutionally is the highest institution within the military establishment only, but in practice, under Kim Jong Il, the National Defense Commission has become the dominant decision-making body of the state (see fig. 10)."

"With the passing of Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s leadership transition is being formally put into place. Here is a quick abridged graphic highlighting the leadership on the ... State Party’s Political Bureau...."

"Railroad, highway, air, and water transportation all are used in North Korea."

This image shows where a number of nuclear proliferation facilities are located in North Korea.

"Washington hasn't stipulated what types of sanctions North Korea might face in the wake of a missile launch, due to concerns it could cause Mr. Kim to unilaterally pull out of six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula."

This striking photo compares "North Korea's literal darkness to the bright lights of South Korea." Notice the lighted areas in the South grew from 1992 to 2008, whereas there was virtually no change in the North during that same time period.

"North Korea was formed after WWII and the end of the Japanese occupation. It was split at the 28th parallel as part of a UN arrangement, to be administered by the US in the South ... and the the Soviet Union in the North since the two couldn’t agree on how to run it."

"North Korea also receives funds in the form of official development assistance (ODA) from aid donor nations and other organizations; other official flows; and private flows."

"As the value of the North Korean won collapsed on the black market, the government issued further edicts banning the use of foreign currency, establishing official prices for goods, and limiting the hours of markets and products that could be legally traded."

"Major export markets for the DPRK have been China, Thailand, and South Korea (primarily because of production from South Korean factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex). (See Figure 6 and Table 2.)

"North Korea’s real annual GDP decreased by 0.5% in 2010, marking a second consecutive year of contraction."

"As shown in Figure 5 and Table 2, North Korea’s major import sources have been China, South Korea, Russia, Japan, and Thailand."

"A look at North Korea's industrial structure in 2010 shows a rise in the GDP share of mining & manufacturing led by mining and decreases in the shares of services, electricity, gas & water supply, and agriculture, forestry & fishing."

"With the passing of Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s leadership transition is being formally put into place. Here is a quick abridged graphic highlighting the leadership on the National Defense Commission...."

"North Korea’s population, estimated in July 2007 to be 23,301,725, is slightly less than half that of South Korea."

"Citizens were instructed that they had one week to convert a limited amount of their old currency to the new currency at a rate of 100:1 (i.e., one new won would be worth 100 old won). The limit would not finance much more than a 50 kilo sack of rice at prevailing retail prices."

"North Korea’s major natural resources include coal, copper, fluorspar, gold, graphite, iron ore, lead, magnesite, pyrites, salt, tungsten, and zinc (see fig. 6)."

Graphed in 1972 and 1973, these two charts describe the economic activity of North and South Korea respectively.

Originally created in 1972 and 1973, these two maps demonstrate the land utilization of North and South Korea. The second chart shows that South Korea uses far more of its land for paddy crops than North Korea.

Brad Plumer has another striking illustration of the country's total economic failure—a graph showing the country's decades-long gross domestic product slump in relation to its neighbor's sure and steady growth. What's amazing is that Kim Jong-il actually managed to wreck the country's already miserable economy even further after he came power.

"A chart figure was made by the WHO, showing per capital total expenditure on health at average exchange rate (US$) in 2006."

Graphed in 1972 and 1973, these two maps demonstrate the population of North and South Korea.

"As indicated in Table 6, since 1991, the South Korean government has provided a total of $3,337.0 million in assistance to the DPRK."

"[P]ublicly available information and occasional leaks make it possible to make best estimates about the size and composition of the national nuclear weapon stockpiles...."

"Pie charts showing North Korean major trading partners for exports and imports; South Korea has banned all its trade with the North."

"Table 8 shows U.S. merchandise exports, imports, and trade balances with North Korea since 1990. Imports have been zero or relatively low with a peak of $1,495,000 in 2004. Almost all of these imports from North Korea were organic chemicals and woven apparel. A possible concern is that imports of books, newspapers, and manuscripts have dropped to zero. For a country with great strategic...

"The ability to visit a foreign country without the cost and hassle of obtaining a visa is a welcome bonus for any traveller."

Analysis Report White Paper

Taming North Korea requires a regional effort led by Beijing. Even an erratic Pyongyang isn't going to use atomic weapons on China.

"A series of high-profile events in 2010 and 2011 highlighted the increasing and multifaceted threat of cyberattacks."

For more than six decades, the divided Korean peninsula has been a source of tension and a constant challenge for the major global powers-including the United States, China, Japan, and Russia-and the rest of the international community.

"North Korea’s real annual GDP decreased by 0.5% in 2010, marking a second consecutive year of contraction. The negative growth was attributable mainly to sluggish agriculture, forestry & fishing production due largely to deteriorating weather conditions, and to the continued decline in manufacturing output centering around the light industries."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is taking advantage of Beijing's desire for stability on the Korean peninsula by engaging in provocative actions that could permanently alter the north-east Asian security situation.

"The United States is in Asia to stay. The graphics that follow help to demonstrate why. A quick glance is enough to demonstrate the dynamism of the region. Asia is home to more than half the world’s population. Freedom and tyranny live side by side across the region, as do economic opportunity and poverty. East and South Asia have some of the best places in the world to do business, but they...

I was asked to speak about where we are today on the Korean issue with geopolitical factors especially in mind. I take that to mean, where do relations between the two Koreas stand and how are they affected by the policies of the great powers and the interrelationships among them.

This is a testimony by Carnegie Deputy Director for Nonproliferation Jon Wolfsthal before the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee on 'The North Korean Nuclear Challenge: Is There a Way Forward?'

"For years, great controversy has surrounded North Korea's uranium enrichment program (UEP)."

This chronology provides information on selective instances of North Korean provocations between June 1950 and 2003. The purpose of this report is to place current provocations in the context of past actions in order to better judge their significance and to determine changes in trends.

This article asks President-elect Obama to pursue a policy that does not reward blatant disobedience and disregard for agreed-to measures and that does not compromise on something that is so fundamental to U.S. security.

"This article is aimed at analyzing, in a comparative perspective, the economic reforms undertaken by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) and Cuba since the demise of the Soviet bloc in the late 1980s and the early 1990s."

Margolis argues that North Korea was a much larger threat to U.S. security than Iraq.

"This essay reviews these three books against the backdrop of the questions raised above and makes two overarching arguments. First, North Korea is more 'normal' than often thought, and its domestic politics, economy, and society function in ways familiar to other countries."

The North Korean 'threat' is a key justification for U.S. military spending, the presence of U.S. troops in Asia, and a new theater missile defense system.

With a military option to resolve the nuclear issue unfeasible and the near-term collapse of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) unlikely, the best way to end the cycle of crises is a negotiated settlement that addresses the security needs of both sides.

"As we face one of the worst recessions in recent memory, protecting a company’s critical information assets like intellectual property and sensitive data has never been more important, yet challenging. A single breach or loss can cause irreparable financial damage to a company’s reputation, its share price and customer confidence."

A very basic breakdown of the role of the IAEA within North Korea and the history of the tension between the two. North Korea's nuclear activity is noted here.


"Kim Jong-il's youngest son, Kim Jong-un is now expected to take over from his father.

But little is known about the man.

As Al Jazeera's Will Jordan reports, there are questions over whether he is ready to lead."

"Charlie Rose and Erica Hill speak with Steve Kroft about a cyber attack that crippled the Iranian nuclear program for a time."

"Acclaimed writer and political scholar Christopher Hitchens may just be the only writer to have recently visited Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Hitchens - known for his keen wit, sharp political insight and often controversial opinions - examines the differences between the countries once linked as the 'axis of evil,' while revealing intriguing connections between the nations."

"U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at The Heritage Foundation on June 18, 2008, about U.S. policy toward Asia."

"Korea experts talked about the death of Kim Jong Il, the future of North Korea, and the potential impact on security in the region. They also responded to questions from the audience."

This propaganda film celebrates the achievements, technological advancement and physical fitness of the North Korean army. It paints the United States as an imperialist aggressor against which North Korea has had to defend itself. The film also extols the role of the army in building and supporting socialism in the economic, social and cultural spheres in order to achieve "the people's...

Doug Bandow offers his commentary on the situation. Despite the alleged nuclear strength of the North Koreans, Bandow believes that the possibility of war between North Korea and America is rather unlikely.

North Korea has been acting in an increasingly provocative manner, threatening nuclear and missile tests, and imprisoning two U.S. reporters captured on the North's border with China.

"Mark Davis reports on the devastating famine in North Korea of 1997, confirming the extent of the food crisis, and that international aid did not get through to the people who need it most.

He captures a rare insight into the negotiations between CARE and the government Relief Committee, who complain CARE is not helping enough. The obsessively secretive government wants to direct all...

"In 'Kim's Nuclear Gamble,' FRONTLINE traces the delicate maneuvers and clumsy turns that have brought the world to the brink of a nuclear showdown in East Asia. Through interviews with key insiders -- including former cabinet secretaries, U.S. ambassadors, diplomats, and negotiators -- the one-hour documentary examines the highly unstable relationship between America and North Korea and the...

"North Korean villages in the Siberian wilderness?

We take a madcap look at one of the weirdest experiments of globalisation: North Korea's deceased leader Kim Jong-Il exporting his people and propaganda machine to Russia in a bid for cold, hard cash.

'You should see their way of living. They live in smelly barns in multiples of ten,' a Russian police chief tells us as he drives...

"North Korea 'is one of the most staggering human-rights and humanitarian disasters in the world.' - Vaclav Havel

KIMJONGILIA, The Flower of Kim Jong Il, is the first film to fully expose the disaster through a tapestry of defectors' stories, North Korean propaganda, and original performance. This feature documentary shows why the defectors fled, describes their hair-raising escapes,...

"Madeleine Albright is the last westerner to have visited North Korea, and Kim Jong-il." Recounting her meeting with the North Korean dictator, she asserts that he is not irrational or insane.

"In an attempt to display his statesmanship potential, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wades into deep foreign policy waters discussing Iraq, North Korea and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin."

The only escapee of North Koreas most brutal prison camp has lived to tell us a story of unspeakable horror. Starved of food and common humanity, Shin proves that gulags are still a tragic reality.

On May 25, 2009, North Korea announced that it had successfully conducted its second nuclear test, having expelled all international nuclear inspectors as a response to a tightening of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

The United Nations Security Council, President Obama and other global leaders have condemned North Korea's recent nuclear test and the launch of several short range missiles.

This documentary chronicles journalists' visit to North Korea. Once finally allowed to enter the country via China, the journalists are taken on a guarded and choreographed tour around Pyongyang and the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).

Welcome to North Korea is a grotesquely surreal look at the all-too-real conditions in modern-day North Korea.

"Presented by Siegfried S. Hecker, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University


North Korea Nuclear Proliferation, Negotiation and the human aspects of an estranged country.

My seventh trip to North Korea in seven years produced another surprise -- North Korea decided to build its own light-water reactor and uranium enrichment facility....

Primary Document

"This armistice signed on July 27, 1953, formally ended the war in Korea. North and South Korea remain separate and occupy almost the same territory they had when the war began."

This document from the State Department details some major facts on North Korea, including information on population, geography, and economics.


Area: 122,762 sq. km. (47,918 sq. mi.), about the size of Mississippi.
Cities: Capital--Pyongyang. Other cities--Hamhung, Chongjin, Wonsan, Nampo, Sinjuiju, and Kaesong.
Terrain: About 80% of land area is moderately high mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys and small, cultivated plains. The remainder is lowland plains covering small, scattered...

"Today North Korea said that it has conducted a nuclear test in violation of international law. It appears to also have attempted a short-range missile launch. These actions, while not a surprise given its statements and actions to date, are a matter of grave concern to all nations. North Korea's attempts to develop nuclear weapons, as well as its ballistic missile program, constitute a threat...

"I am pleased that the United States and North Korea yesterday reached agreement on the text of a framework document on North Korea's nuclear program. This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula."

"The final thing, a subject that I want to open up personally before we go to the questions, is merely the Korean question.

I wrote a letter to Mr. Rhee in which I earnestly tried to express what is my understanding and, I believe, the American understanding of how we got into that war, what we were trying to achieve, where we are now, and what we are trying to do. In no case have we...

"Last night the Government of North Korea proclaimed to the world that it had conducted a nuclear test. We're working to confirm North Korea's claim. Nonetheless, such a claim itself constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The United States condemns this provocative act. Once again North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community...

"At noon today I sent a message to the Congress about the situation in Korea. I want to talk to you tonight about that situation, and about what it means to the security of the United States and to our hopes for peace in the world.

Korea is a small country, thousands of miles away, but what is happening there is important to every American."

In this speech, President Harry Truman outlines the American war effort in Korea. Truman frames the conflict by describing the efforts in Korea as an attempt to prevent "world war III."

Since North Korea launched a long-range missile over Japan in 1998, relations with North Korea have been a highly politicized issue inside Japan, creating strong domestic support for taking a hard line against Pyongyang.

"Last February it was announced that withdrawals of U.S. ground combat forces from Korea would be held in abeyance pending the completion of a reassessment of North Korea's military strength and the implications of recent political developments in the region. That reassessment has been completed, and these policy issues have been discussed with our key allies in Asia, with principal defense...

"Over the past 15 months the North Koreans have pursued a stepped-up campaign of violence against South Korean and the American troops in the area of the Demilitarized Zone.

Armed raider teams in very large numbers have been sent into South Korea to engage in sabotage and assassination."

The record shows that the North Koreans have been quick to go to the conference table with the US when one or more of the following conditions have been obtained.

This edition of North Korea: A Country Study attempts to review the history and treat in a concise manner the dominant social, political, economic, and military aspect of contemporary North Korea.

"In early and mid-2009, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) embarked on a course that included a series of extremely provocative military actions, a shift in power toward the military, emphasis on ideological purity, rising criticism of the United States, and going forward with its nuclear and missile program in spite of sanctions and objections from much of the rest...

The aggressive challenge to world order recently reignited by North Korea and the failure of the 1994 agreement between the United States and North Korea to achieve decisive change demand a new strong response.

"North Korea has been among the most vexing and persistent problems in U.S. foreign policy in the post-cold war period. The United States has never had formal diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the official name for North Korea). Negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have consumed the past three U.S. administrations, even as some analysts...

The latest statements out of North Korea appear to be telegraphing their next set of provocative moves. They have threatened everything from further ballistic missile tests, another nuclear test, withdrawal from the armistice, and cyber warfare.

A North Korea policy review team was tasked in November 1998 by President Clinton and his national security advisors to conduct an extensive review of U.S. policy toward the DPRK.

"Speaker Chae, Vice Speaker Yun, Vice Speaker Koh, distinguished Members of the National Assembly, and honored guests:

I'm privileged to be among such friends. I stand in your Assembly as Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson have stood before me. And I reaffirm, as they did, America's support and friendship for the Republic of Korea and its people."

As a small country dependent on foreign trade and investment, North Korea should be highly vulnerable to external economic pressure.

"The use of mandatory sanctions is intended to apply pressure on a State or entity to comply with the objectives set by the Security Council without resorting to the use of force. Sanctions thus offer the Security Council an important instrument to enforce its decisions. The universal character of the United Nations makes it an especially appropriate body to establish and monitor such measures...

The personal secretary of Kim Il Sung, Mun Il (a Soviet Korean), came to me and at the commission of Kim Il Sung reported that they had received reliable information that in the near future the southerners intend to seize the part of the Ongjin peninsula.

"Soviet Foreign ministry advises to instigate Korean War only if the war will be quick and decisive."

Agreement between the Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command, on the one hand, and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army and the Commander of the Chinese People's volunteers, on the other hand, concerning a military armistice in Korea.

Underlining once again the importance that the DPRK respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community.

On 25 November 1950, a day after United Nations and Republic of Korea forces began the offensive they expected would complete the unification of Korea, Communist China countered with a terrific, and very successful offensive of its own.

Kim Jong-il lays out his unique ruling philosophy. He describes the superiority of the Korean people, while also clarifying "new philosophical principles centered on man," namely, "man is the master of everything and he decides everything."

This document briefly outlines the events leading up to the Korean War.

Before dawn on Sunday, 25 June 1950, the North Korean army moved forcefully into the South, whose outgunned defenders were generally overwhelmed. Seoul, capital of the Republic of Korea, fell in four days.

This is a declassified document which discusses arms control in the Koreas, U.S. options in Korea, and how to reduce tension in the area.

Even though it focuses on a single, specific issue - Korean peninsula denuclearization - the six-party process has served as a catalyst for a more important regional issue: the future of Asia-Pacific security cooperation.

This piece explains the United Nations offensive against North Korea. Also, China enters the conflict and is engaged by United States and South Korean forces.

North Korea promised to shut down and seal its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon this quarter in a deal that implements the Six-Party Talks September 2005 Joint Statement, committing Pyongyang to dismantling its nuclear weapons program.



Could cyber-attacks be used to cause physical damage? What other vulnerabilities might be exploited in a cyber-attack? Could an attack disrupt infrastructure such as power grids? All these questions and more are answered in the FAQ below.

Is the threat of an EMP a legitimate concern? What kind of infrastructural damage is an EMP capable of? How long would the consequences of such an attack last? All these questions and more will be answered in this FAQ.

One of the most serious threats to national security, individual privacy, and protection of one's assets comes from Intellectual Property (I.P.) espionage. What kind of information may be stolen? Who is or has the capability of engaging in effective I.P. espionage? Has this already happened? What can the United States do? All these questions and more are answered in this FAQ.

Missile defense. It's been talked about for decades, some of us even grew up watching Patriot missiles shoot down Iraqi Scud missiles in the first Gulf War. But where do things stand today? Is it still needed? Should I care? Those questions and more are answered in the FAQ below.



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