About me:


  • The views expressed here are not those of any other person, organization, or entity; they are the author’s alone. Specifically, they don’t represent the views of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, or its Chairman, members, or staff.  The commenters’ views are also their own.
  • Discussion of legal subject matter is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The material I post on this blog is either from open sources or unclassified information provided by readers.
  • When I link to published articles, papers, posts, or other sources, I presume them to be reliable unless I say otherwise. Newspapers don’t e-mail bloggers if they correct their stories; too often, they don’t correct their stories at all. If you believe anything I write or link here is inaccurate, kindly drop a comment or e-mail me and I’ll cheerfully correct the post. Your comments contribute to the quality of this blog. I appreciate corrections, and I’ve actually formed friendships with readers specifically because of corrections.
  • I occasionally frequently criticize and occasionally approve of things politicians or candidates say, but I don’t endorse parties or candidates or tell you how to vote. You don’t care, and I don’t pretend otherwise. (OK, I did make one very special exception.)
  • I don’t accept ads or donations (as if). I run this site on my time and pay the operating costs out of my own pocket.

Comment Policy:

  1. Stay on topic.
  2. Be polite: Don’t attack other people because of their race, gender, nationality, or religion. No doxing; leave private or personal details about other people out of the discussion. Profanity is tolerated as long as it helps illustrate your point or appeals to my subjective sense of humor, but don’t direct it at other participants in the discussion.
  3. No commercial links.
  4. No sock puppetry. If you’ve posted here under one online identity, use that identity or comment anonymously.
  5. I reserve the right to delete comments that are just plain stupid, or to put the authors of consistently stupid comments into moderation. It’s an unfortunate fact that stupid comments drive away intelligent ones, and if you doubt me, just have a look at that principle in action. Different bloggers take different views of how to approach this — to each his own. I’m just trying to create a small, safe space for intelligent discussion on one narrow range of subjects, on one small site I built with my own time and money. There’s plenty of room elsewhere on the Internet for caps-locked rants about why fire doesn’t melt steel, why Bush is Hitler, why Gitmo is exactly the same as Auschwitz, or how Barack Obama covered up his Moldovan birth certificate.

That said, I especially welcome dissenting views. All I ask — and this applies equally to everyone — is that you keep it reasonably civil and intelligent, and support your views with supporting links where necessary. Comments should contribute to our knowledge and the quality of our thinking.

Contact: onefreekorea(at)yahoo(dot)com

About The Banner Image: It’s is a NASA low light level image of the Korean peninsula taken on the night of April 15, 2001. I first saw this image when I was serving with the U.S. Army in Korea when it became popular to put this image, and perhaps other similar images you can find on the Web, on soldiers’ farewell plaques.

I found this particular image here, at the Web site of the left-of-center Federation of American Scientists, after Christopher Hitchens linked it in his excellent article, “Worse than 1984: North Korea, Slave State. Click to see it full size.


To make the banner image, I cut the Korean peninsula out of the original image, put it on a transparent background, changed the eerie green boundary lines to gray, and restored the extreme northeastern parts of North Hamgyeong Province, which had been cut out of the original image. On occasion, I get e-mails accusing me of altering this image, suggesting that I dimmed or grayed out the lights of Pyongyang or other cities in the North (I didn’t). Examine the original image. A small amount of light is visible in Pyongyang if you look closely at my banner. Can’t see it? Well, here it is full size.



  1. Stray comment the other day about “38 North.” I read them, and I read you. Some of their stuff seems a little opaque, but the photo analysis seems pretty objective. Just wondered what the essential nature of the critique was of that site. I can be reached by e-mail.


  2. I just came across this site today…and spent most of the day reading it!

    Fantastic resource. Thank you Joshua, you’ve done a tremendous job.




  3. Good afternoon, I am contacting you because I was looking at satellite imagery of North Korea on Google Maps and found an image of some written Korean characters on the ground near the Musudan middle test site, I was hoping you could tell me what they mean


  4. Hi Mr. Stanton, are there any sources for information or groups working on post-reunification economics?


  5. I am quite surprised at the extent of Malaysia’s complicity in North Korean crimes. I spent time in Malaysia in 1971, and was under the inpression that Malaysia was rather more cautious in her dealings with Communist regimes. This latest episode just reaffirms a basic fact: trying to deal North Korea is like trying to shake hands with a rattlesnake; you will only get bitten. Thanks, Captain Stanton!


  6. I have never met you but I have the utmost respect for who you are and how passionate you are about the things you advocate for.

    Because you ARE a lawyer, husband, father, patriot, Colonel, expert, a bulldog, owner and operator of the best DPRK blog/website AND a noble human being, you are everything that I would like for my sons to be when they graduate from a law school (Beasley Law, Temple, Philadelphia) and a medical school (TBD), respectively.

    The major media networks around the world need more of your perspective whenever the name “kim jong un” is mentioned….


  7. ““Colonel Stanton”; that has a nice ring to it. ”

    No doubt. Additionally, a title “the top adviser” to any influential person who dares to tackle the convoluted (not by us), complicated (thanks to Xi/China, Moon Jae In and his misguided cronies), and obligatory response (how much more should innocent victims suffer) to Kim Jong Un is in order…


  8. I found this site via David Hawk’s “The Hidden Gulag,” and I’ve been obsessively reading for days. This site is incredibly well-organized, informative, professional but never dry or supercilious, and engaging. Thank you so much for all of the time and energy you’ve put into this. It’s sad that human rights aren’t the world’s top priority (even when countries say they are), but as long as there are passionate people trying to make a difference, then there’s hope for change. It all starts with shining a light on the problem.


  9. Dear Joshua Stanton,

    My name is Kyung Rhee. I am a reporter at Radio Free Asia.

    I am working on an article that analysis of UN resolution 2371.

    I have a few questions.

    – What are the implications of UN resolution 2371?
    – What is your opinion about UN resolution 2371?
    – What is the prospect of this sanction?

    Overall analysis of the Resolution 2371?

    Thank you in advance.


  10. Hey there,

    Noticed your article about Mesh Networks in North Korea.

    Wondering if you might be able to connect the dots for us. Consider this project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sonnet/sonnet-decentralized-mobile-communication/description

    And this white paper: https://fas.org/pubs/pir/2011winter/2011Winter-TwittertoNKorea.pdf

    Right now, it is possible to make “Twitter available in Pyongyang” by the end of the month. Recent developments in mesh networking technologies mean that it would be possible to build one that’s (1) hard to detect, (2) cheap to replace, and (3) able to run without a human – in other words, people from about the 38th can plant a node on the top of a tree, get compensated, and leave. The best part: This entire project would cost about half of what an Abrams tank costs.

    The ask: I would like to be connected with someone passionate about the individuals and families of North Korea who might be able to help me drive this forward.

    Thank you in advance,


  11. Hi, I was just messing around on google earth as I do, and I noticed a couple of things I was wondering if you could help shed light on.

    First of all, here https://www.google.com.hk/maps/@41.7895804,128.3150209,15765m/data=!3m1!1e3
    there are at least five rings of what appear to be clear cut forest visible. I was wondering what they are/what their function is. The first one I noticed was after looking at the complex at the left end of the field on the right side of the screen, as they seem somewhat connected.




  12. Hey I saw your article on Moon Jae-In’s sunshine policy. Well the first clause of Sunshine policy is “No armed provocation by the North will be tolerated”. Moon tolerated every missile attack launched by North in 2017. Another thing I saw on your website was that Korean population likes Moon personally,but no, including myself, he is another anti-american, pro-north korean, this time Chinese friendly. Roh Moo-Hyun 2.0 sum him up very well.



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