Think-Tank Watch

By | January 27, 2012 | No Comments

Steven Denney is editor-in-chief  of PEAR, Yonsei University’s graduate journal, a leading voice at the Political Cartel (East Asia) blog, and a master’s student in Global Studies at Yonsei University. In his first foray as Think-Tank Analyst for, Denney compiles a list of recent discussion of North Korea and Sino-North Korean relations for the week just passed.  — Editor

Victor D. Cha and Nicholas D. Anderson (in the Washington Quarterly) argue that despite opinions to the contrary, North Korea could be in for its own version of the “Arab Spring.”  Amongst other arguments, the authors state the regime destabilization and collapse is hard to predict.

This CSIS report, a compilation of findings from a 2011 conference focusing on long-term tasks involved in the eventual unification of the Korean peninsula.  The report covers a wide-range of topics, ranging from social security issues to public health.  It includes contributions from CFR’s Scott Synder and Yonsei University’s John Delury.

Stephan Haggard, at North Korea:  Witness to Transformation, posts on review essays on North Korea, both of which address work that he and Marcus Noland have done.  One, by Charles Armstrong, focuses on the daily lives of the North Korea people, institutions and ideology.  The other, by political scientist David Kang, focuses his attention on how the people perceive themselves – the title of his review is “They Think Their Normal:  Enduring Questions and New Research on North Korea.”

Andrei Lankov profiles Colonel General Terenti Shytkov, NK’s first leader. Shytkov was the de facto leader of the North from 1945-46 and was responsible for the post-liberation land reforms. He stayed on as a power-behind-the-scenes in his capacity as Soviet ambassador until the outbreak of the Korean War.

Stephen Haggard posts his in-depth analysis of this year’s annual joint editorial (신년공동사설). The editorial basically functions as Pyongyang’s version of the State of the Union Address in the US.

Andray Abrahamian speculates about why Ri Chol, head of the North’s Joint Venture Investment Committee, left his post earlier this year.

The DailyNK reports on the murders of four bureaucrats in Cheongjin, North Hamgyong Province. The source notes that the alleged murders were carried out as acts of rebellion against the government. No other source or media outlet has corroborated the story as of this writing.

Via North Korean Economy Watch, Kaesong production is up 14% in 2011; employment is expected to increase.  In the same post, this Yonhap news article is linked to, which states that 400 new laborers are expected to work in Kaesong.  As recent reports by the Chonsun Ilbo show, a Korea-China FTA is expected to include the Kaesong Industrial Complex (the recent Korea-US FTA does not); as far as the prospect for reform go, this is significant.

Reading, reading, and more reading — Image courtesy Joseph A. Ferris III

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