Engagement Foreigners in N. Korea Sunshine Terrorism (NK)

The PUST hostage crisis is a fitting symbol of the futility of engaging Pyongyang

Just one week after I predicted that the misbegotten experiment known as the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology would soon be at the center of a hostage crisis, the inevitable has happened. North Korean state media reports the country has detained a U.S. citizen — the fourth U.S. citizen being held there amid rising …

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Cyberwar Engagement Technology

The Commerce Department should review PUST’s export licenses for North Korea

Last week, several news outlets reported that representatives of PUST, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, are in the United States, seeking support to expand their curriculum in North Korea. PUST didn’t say what kind of support it seeks, but recent reports suggest that PUST has lost donors and had to slash its budget. …

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Engagement Kaesong North-South Sunshine

The End of Sunshine: S. Korea suspends ops at Kaesong, “suspected” of funding N. Korea’s WMD programs

Year after year, and almost alone, I have argued that the Kaesong Industrial Park was incompatible with U.N. Security Council resolutions sanctioning Pyongyang. At Kaesong, “South Korea has 124 companies … employing 54,700 North Korean workers … whose wages are paid to a North Korean state agency.” All told, those fees, taxes, and “wages,” which the North Korean workers …

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Censorship Engagement

Did a U.S. university teach North Korea to track down dissidents?

Just after Christmas, Reuters reported on the analysis of two German IT experts who downloaded a copy of North Korea’s Linux-based Red Star operating system and analyzed its code. Inside, they found something both horrifying and completely predictable. Red Star contains code for “tagging, or watermarking, every document or media file on a computer or on …

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Engagement Kremlinology NK Economics

Attention North Korean generals: You have exactly six months to plot your coup.

Notwithstanding some reports to the contrary yesterday, it looks like Kim Jong-Un’s big party congress will proceed in May, as planned. According to the Korean Institute for National Unification, a South Korean think tank, personnel changes will be on the agenda: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is expected to reveal his new aides in a major …

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Appeasement Border Control Capitalism Engagement Refugees Sunshine

Inter-Korean phone calls can keep the promises of the Sunshine Policy

Twenty years of state-to-state engagement between North and South Korea have not lived up to Kim Dae-Jung’s promises. Pyongyang has taken Seoul’s money, nuked up, and periodically attacked South Korea for good measure. Rather than reforming, it has invested heavily in sealing its borders. Pyongyang sustains itself on foreign hard currency, even as it cuts off …

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Cyberwar Engagement

Defectors: PUST is training North Korean hackers

Not for the first time, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a showpiece for academic engagement between North Korea and the Outer Earth, stands accused of teaching its elite students to work as hackers in Kim Jong-Un’s notorious cyberwarfare units.  North Korea is reportedly recruiting graduates from Pyongyang University of Science and Technology for cyber warfare. …

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Engagement Sanctions

Orascom’s Big Turkey Drop: Why the SEC should require disclosure of investments in N. Korea

For years, Koryolink was the showpiece of economic engagement with the North Korean government. The service, a partnership between Pyongyang and the Egyptian conglomerate Orascom, provided cell phone service to North Korean officials, elites, security forces, and a few other customers with enough cash and connections to afford them. As a sweetener for Kim Jong-Un, Orascom also clothed the …

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Engagement NK Economics

Of fools and their money: Martyn Williams on Orascom’s North Korea fiasco

Martyn Williams of the North Korea Tech blog has a must-read story at IT World about how Orascom’s investment in North Korea’s Koryolink mobile phone service “went horribly wrong.” That such a headline can be written is, by itself, a stunning reversal. During the early years of Kim Jong-Un’s reign, Koryolink was the poster child for more sanguine North Korea …

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Border Control Capitalism Censorship Class Warfare Engagement

The more North Korea trades, the more it reforms, right? Wrong.

Yesterday, I questioned the premises of economic engagement with Pyongyang — that Pyongyang is socialist, that trade is capitalism, that capitalism inexorably erodes socialism, and that capitalism (least of all, state capitalism) is inherently liberal and peaceful. I argued that Pyongyang adopted state capitalism decades ago, and that it has grown steadily more menacing and repressive ever since. It …

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Class Warfare Engagement Propaganda Sunshine Useful Idiocy

The Myth of North Korean Socialism: How Pyongyang’s Profiteers Fooled the World

Over this long weekend, I’ve been reading Brian R. Myers’s new book, “North Korea’s Juche Myth,” a copy of which Prof. Myers was kind enough to send. Myers argues that juche, that cryptic ideology reporters often mention but never explain, is a sham ideology that is both overblown and seldom understood, by foreigners as well as North Koreans. Very …

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Engagement Kaesong Money Laundering Sanctions Sunshine

Why legal investments in North Korea are a money laundering risk

You’ve often seen me write about the importance of “financial transparency” in transactions with North Korea. For a decade, economic engagement has mostly been done by one of two models: (1) controlled interactions with members of the elite, the actual effects of which are negligible at best; and (2) barbed-wire capitalism, where a few North Korean officials relay orders from foreign managers to hand-picked workers, …

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Engagement Subversion Sunshine

Somehow, I don’t think this will encourage Kim Jong Un to engage with us.

I think Marzuki Darusman is a good man who means well, but it’s difficult to derive a coherent policy from this: “This is a new thing, spotlighting the leadership and ridiculing the leadership. In any authoritarian, totalitarian system, that is an Achilles’ heel,” Darusman said in an interview in Tokyo, where he held talks with the government on an …

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