Canada and the perverse challenge of Northeast Asian regional security, by Paul Evans

[The following paper by CanKor Brain Trust member Paul Evans was originally presented at the “New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia: Breaking the Gridlock” workshop held on October 9th and 10th, 2012 in Washington, DC. The workshop was organized by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Dr. Evans is Professor at the Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia. –CanKor]

Paul Evans 2010 bFor a little more than a decade starting with the end of the Cold War in Europe Canada was an engaged, proactive and sometimes innovative player in multilateral security issues in Northeast Asia. It initiated the North Pacific Cooperative Security Dialogue between 1990 and 1993, a pioneering track-two process including the principal six in Northeast Asia plus Canada and Mongolia intended to lay the foundation for an inclusive regional process in a region re-framed as the North Pacific. It pursued an “engagement without illusions” approach to North Korea that included encouragement of multiple levels of academic and NGO connections and eventually led in 2001 to the establishment of diplomatic relations. The government provided financial assistance to KEDO and supported diplomats and academics in multiple track-two meetings on a multilateral and bilateral basis that focused on regional frameworks and initiatives, including on arms control, missile defense weaponization of space, and non-proliferation.

Resource constraints and a chill of relations with North Korea as the extent of its nuclear ambitions became clear tempered some of these ambitions between 2001 and 2005, though the Liberal government was inclined to support the possibility of Canada playing an active “second circle” role as needed to advance the Six Party Talks. Read the rest of this entry »

Sifting through the golf sands for a hint of North Korea’s future

[Many of the CanKor Brain Trust members have been inundated by the media for interviews in the past weeks. For this article, John Barber of Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail interviewed Hartmuth Kroll, Paul EvansDavid Hawk and CanKor Editor Erich Weingartner. “Your Brain Trust was a lifesaver!” John Barber wrote in an email to the editor. “I was very happy to talk to Canadians.” The article appeared in the 30 December 2011 edition of the Globe and Mail. –CanKor]

In keeping with his orderly ascension from ranking army general to top political official to supreme leader of the last hard-line Communist country on earth, North Korea’s chubby young Kim Jong-un is expected soon to take up golf, where he will challenge his father’s record of scoring almost a dozen holes-in-one on his first try at the game.

Afforded little else in the way of information on the internal doings of the secretive country, observers will be reduced to parsing news of the young leader’s score, speculating on what it might mean should he fail to match his father’s 38-under-par.

Such is the fantasy scenario of North Korea’s notorious – often ludicrous – propaganda machine, which is operating at full throttle after the death of the country’s last demigod ruler. Observers question whether the regime can maintain the barrage of lies big and little it has used for so long to mislead and repress its citizens.

In particular, they wonder how long it will be before the flood of information loosened by the digital revolution, which helped destabilize and wash away repressive regimes throughout the Middle East this year, finally leaks through slowly widening cracks in the Kimchi Curtain. Read the rest of this entry »

Recognizing the Human Behind the Ideology

by Col. Jargalsaikhan Mendee, graduate student from Mongolia, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, 12 July 2010

Attending a reading by Erich Weingartner at UBC last May, I couldn’t help feeling the pain of his fictional friend Pak Kim Li. Mr. Pak is in the middle of everything: ideology, civilization, history and humans. Pak’s story was touching because we have lived in a similar closed society in Mongolia. Personally, Pak’s story was believable because my experience was similar to his. Pak’s story is heartbreaking because after so many years, we are still not doing enough to understand him and his people. Read the rest of this entry »

CanKor on Relaunch of CanKor Website

Erich Weingartner, Editor of CanKor, speaks about North Korea and the new version of The CanKor Website. This Canada-North Korea news service “aims to provide information and analysis that does not get the attention it deserves in the commercial media”.

Also in this interview, Mr. Weingartner discusses North Korea’s integration into the East Asia region and the world. He also talks about Canada’s role in opening North Korea.

This 5-part interview was produced at the Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia:

  • Why a second version of CanKor?

  • How will the 2nd version of CanKor be different?

  • Are you optimistic that North Korea can integrate into the region and improve its position in the world?

  • What role would you like to see Canada play in opening up North Korea?

  • What can we expect from “Mr. Pak” in the new CanKor?

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