Preparing for Change in North Korea: Shifting Out of Neutral by Michael J. Mazarr

[This paper by Michael J. Mazarr & the Study Group on North Korean Future comes in the Korea Economic Institute (KEI) Academic Paper Series Volume 6, Number 3 of April 2011. The study was undertaken to assess possible futures for the North Korean regime and the Korean peninsula that could affect U.S. and regional interests, and to consider which U.S. and regional strategies and policy actions could both prepare for possible outcomes and shape those outcomes to better serve U.S. Interests. Below we give you first a review of the document by Chris Nelson, and then the main titles of the recommendations of the report. To read the full report, click on the link at the bottom. –CanKor.]


The Mazarr team’s report is purely “personal” in the sense that it’s not official USG or NDU, but given the make-up of the group, including US and allied military and itel folks, it’s a remarkably broadly cast net of analysis of current and future problems, with some frank, tough-minded recommendations which run directly counter to current USG policy.

Sample key finding: the group disagrees with the apparent underlying basis for all US policy, that at some point the DPRK will surrender its nuclear weapons in return for the right mix of benefits and inducements. In fact, as the group knows, no senior US policy-maker any longer suffers from such a delusion.

And it correctly identifies the contradiction stemming from that…which many civilian analysts have worried about for months…that current US policy has no direct approach on the immediate concerns of proliferation of missiles, and WMD technology.

Most surprising, perhaps, given the community from which the participants come, the group does not shy from discussing the need for more outreach by USG and private business and civil society players into the DPRK as much as possible. And in the Q&A’s, the team agreed that it makes no sense not to have a US Interests Section in Pyongyang.


Our recommendations fall into five areas. In each area we offer short-term, unconditional recommendations and longer-term, more ambitious recommendations.

  1. Enhance communication and contact with North Korean officials and mid-level elites.
  2. Offer targeted developmental assistance.
  3. Propose a new, higher-level official bilateral dialogue with North Korea.
  4. Expand efforts to spread objective information inside North Korea.
  5. Encourage and promote private enterprise foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade in North Korea.

Read the full report by clicking this link: Preparing for Change in North Korea

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