Serious armed clash highly unlikely, by Andrei Lankov

[In an article written for a Russian newspaper, historian Andrei Lankov, of Kookmin University in Seoul, believes that North Korea has nothing to gain from excessive confrontation at this stage. He estimates chances for anything serious to happen are 0.0%, and chances of a minor shooting are, perhaps, 5% at most at this stage. But this does not mean that things will remain calm in future, according to Lankov. If South Korea does not increase its payments to the North by early fall, the DPRK may indeed do a bit of shooting — just to teach the SK elite and its public an object lesson, explaining to them that paying Pyongyang is the cheaper option. We post his article courtesy the Nelson Report. –CanKor]

(Photo by NKVision)

(Photo by NKVision)

If the world media is to be believed, the Korean Peninsula is now on the brink of war. Indeed, over the last few days the North Korean government has been pumping out seriously bellicose rhetoric.

The DPRK stated that it will withdrew from the Armistice treaty from March 11, and cut the phone hot line between Pyongyang and Seoul. It also withdrew from its non-aggression pact with South Korea. Meanwhile, Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the North Korean government, ran an editorial in which it stated that the glorious North Korean army, newly equipped with the world-class nuclear weapons and missiles, will transform both Seoul and Washington into seas of fire as soon as presumably the Supreme Commander gets around to giving a relevant order. According to reports from North Korea itself, the population of major cities are undergoing frequent, high intensity air raid drills. Read the rest of this entry »

38 North: North Korean Women – Markets and Power

[From time to time CanKor will alert our readers to papers published by our partner-site 38North. The following article is an interview conducted and translated by Janice Lee, a researcher at the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights in Seoul, and Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, a Swedish economics and political science student at Stockholm University. Please follow our links to this article on the 38North site. –CanKor.]

North Korean Women: Markets and Power By 38 North

Researchers, diplomats, tourists, and defectors have all spoken of gradual changes in recent years to the complicated role women play in North Korean society. Andrei Lankov, a scholar at Kookmin University in Seoul, points out that women are able to play a dominant role in the black markets that emerged during the famine of the 1990s because they come under less scrutiny than men in the North’s patriarchal society.[1] Some scholars have also argued that the increasing flow of information from abroad is changing the way North Korean women dress, behave, and regard themselves, setting the stage for major changes in the country’s social dynamics.

A picture of a woman dressed in a western suit walking down a city street would usually be of little interest. But when that street is in Pyongyang, imaginations tend to run wild, contemplating what the image may reveal about North Korea’s closed off society. (Photo: Irina Kalashnikova)

However, North Korean defector Hyun In-ae has cautioned against overstating the significance of these changes for women in the North. A former professor at Chongjin University, Hyun fled the country in 2004 after her husband was arrested by North Korea’s infamous State Security Agency. She is now working on a Ph.D. in North Korean studies at Ehwa Women’s University in Seoul, and heads the North Korean Intellectuals’ Society, an organization of North Korean intellectuals who defected to the South.

38 North met with Dr. Hyun earlier this month to get her insights about the status of women both in the DPRK and in the defector community in the South. (Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.) …Read More

Narco-capitalism grips North Korea

The Tumen River, at the border between North K...

Tumen River - China-DPRK border

The Far-East has always had a “special relationship” with narcotics, and the DPRK is no exception. In a recent article, associate professor at Kookmin University in Seoul Andrei Lankov notes a shift in narcotics production and use in North Korea, from state-run (or at least protected) to free-market style.

North Korea’s involvement with narcotics trafficking came under the spotlight 35 years ago. Lankov writes:

In 1976, Norwegian police intercepted a large shipment of hashish in the luggage of North Korean diplomats. The same year, another group of North Korean officials was found in possession of the same drug by Egyptian customs; they had 400 kilograms of hashish in their luggage. Read the rest of this entry »

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