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What does the name stand for?
The name is a composite of CANada and KORea.
Does it bother you that Google keeps trying to spell it “canker”?
Yes! But we’re getting used to it.
What’s Canada got to do with Korea?
Well, for starters, Canada has a long history of ties with the Korean Peninsula starting in the 19th century. But also:
- Over 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean Conflict, from 1950 until 1953, and a further 7,000 remained until 1955, helping to supervise the ceasefire. Canadian casualties numbered 1,558, of which 516 were fatalities.
- South Korea is Canada’s fifth largest trading partner.
- The Canadianfoodgrains Bank was at the forefront of the food aid initiative during what has been dubbed as “the great famine” in the late nineties.
- A Canadian was the first to receive resident status in North Korea, serving as founding Head of the Food Aid Liaison Unit (FALU), an independent section of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) that programmed and monitored humanitarian assistance donated by non-governmental organizations. This Canadian is our very own Editor-in-Chief Erich Weingartner.
- Canada was at the crest of a wave of countries establishing diplomatic relations with the DPRK in the 2000s. Canada established said relations 6 February 2001, thanks in large part to the Parliamentary visit led by none other than The Very Reverend, the Honorable Lois M. Wilson, a Canadian senator.
How did CanKor get started?
On 25 July 2000, riding a wave of optimism barely a month after the historic June 15 Inter-Korean summit, the first issue of the CanKor Report was sent to a select list of Canadian subscribers. The Canadian Government was in the process of establishing diplomatic relations with the DPRK; Canadian humanitarian agencies had been active in battling famine in North Korea during the preceding five years; yet as a Parliamentary delegation to North Korea was to report, there was little reliable information publicly available in Canada.
So Prof. Paul Evans at the University of British Columbia came up with the idea of a Canadian news bulletin on matters related to North Korea. So CanKor launched as an initiative of his Northeast Asia Cooperation Project (NEACP) based in the Programme on Canada-Asia Policy Studies at UBC. You can find more detail about our history here.
What is the purpose of CanKor?
The original aim of CanKor was to provide a vehicle for informed debate to assist in policy formulation for academics, NGO workers, civil servants and an interested public. CanKor sought to add context and content to Canada’s budding diplomatic relationship with the DPRK.
Initially, CanKor collected data on the variety of Canadian governmental and civil society activities related to North Korea, and provided weekly summaries of current events relevant to an understanding of changes that were occurring in the DPRK and in inter-Korean relations at the time.
CanKor has evolved to become an interactive thinking space for exploring North Korea policies, particularly for non-frontline states who are often left out of the debate. Being a non-frontline state, or 2nd tier country, often allows possibilities for creative brokering not possible for nations involved in the 6Party talk.
Is CanKor a think tank?
We think of CanKor more as a Think NET than a think TANK – for one thing, we exist exclusively on the Net. But also: whereas think tanks mostly promote a particular ideological position, CanKor seeks solutions beyond ideology. We transcend foregone conclusions and challenge ideological juggernauts.
We think of ourselves as a virtual Joint Security Area, or neutral zone, where all are welcome to explore ideas and test theories. We believe a lasting solution to the “problem of North Korea” will not be solved with the same thinking that created and perpetuates it. It will require the earnestness and creativity of all minds in all disciplines.
Does CanKor have an ideological position?
As good Canadians, we believe in the grand ol’ principles of peace, freedom, and human rights as well as social responsibility and being accountable to the global community. But how do we translate these grand concepts into a position on North Korea?
Our intellectual godfather Dr. Paul Evans once suggested our position might be stated as being “Engagement Without Illusion”. The question we pin on the board to guide our thinking is: What will be most beneficial for the “ordinary” people of North Korea?
It is when things become excruciatingly frustrating that easy answers appear not only tantalizing but realistic. What keeps us teetering on the razor’s edge between idealism and cynicism is that ultimately, we hold ourselves accountable to the children of North Korea and their future.
Who reads CanKor?
Social scientists, political scientists, historians, graduate and undergrad students, academic department and institute heads, North Korea experts, expats in Korea, Koreans in Canada, Asia-philes, North Korea-philes, humanitarian agencies, United Nations staff, NGOs, clergy and lay people, atheists, humanists, retired missionaries, human rights advocates, lawyers, journalists, authors, communists, republicans, democrats (new and otherwise), conservatives (progressive and otherwise), liberals, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, bankers, teachers, former and current civil servants (Canadian and otherwise), former and current ambassadors (Canadian and otherwise), and now… you.
Do the North Koreans read CanKor?
We know some who do. Avidly. We regularly receive statements or commentary which we gleefully share with our readers.
Are you receiving financial support from North or South Korean governments?
How is CanKor financed?
CanKor is financed entirely by the donations of individuals and organizations that find it a useful resource. Despite this generosity, CanKor remains a labour of love. Donations don’t even come close to covering operating costs, but every bit helps! In fact, let me take this opportunity to pass the hat!
How many staff does CanKor have?
Is CanKor hiring staff?
Haha, good one. When we can afford to pay ourselves, we’ll consider paying someone else. But we throw great parties for our volunteers!
Does CanKor accept volunteers?
Yes! Absolutely! When can you start?
Will you come speak at our Awareness Event?
We’d be thrilled to! Invite us.