Is “Vaccine Diplomacy” the Right Prescription for the Korean Peninsula? By Jaclyn Schiff

[The following article appeared in UN Dispatch, a site that provides commentary and coverage on the United Nations and issues related to the work of the UN. In this piece from 25 January 2013, Jaclyn Schiff consults a number of experts, including CanKor Brain Trust member Victor Hsu, on the feasibility of “vaccine diplomacy”, an idea proposed in the LA Times by Dr. Peter Hotez. President and director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, Hotez is also dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and fellow in disease and poverty at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. –CanKor]

Peter J. Hotez (Photo by Agapito Sanchez Jr., BCM Public Affairs)

Peter J. Hotez (Photo by Agapito Sanchez Jr., BCM Public Affairs)

In an op-ed, published Thursday in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, suggests that “vaccine diplomacy” could improve relations between North Korea and South Korea.

From joint neglected tropical disease (NTD) treatment efforts to scientific alliances, Hotez argues that it could be “a breakout year for science and vaccine diplomacy to reduce the disease burden on the Korean peninsula and promote an unprecedented level of scientific collaboration.”

But according to experts who study the region, Hotez’s vision may be a long shot.

“DPRK is extremely distrustful and unlikely willing to expose themselves to lethal transmissible diseases in the name of science or anything else,” says Roger Cavazos, an associate at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, which is based in Berkeley, California. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. and North Korea: The land of lousy options by John Kerry

[John Kerry, a US senator from Massachusetts, heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In an Op Ed published in the Los Angeles Times on 26 June 2011, Kerry states that Washington’s approach to North Korea’s bad behaviour has been measured, firm, but inadequate. He calls for the USA to re-engage directly with the DPRK, beginning with the provision of food aid. – CanKor.]

Senator John Kerry

Sixty-one years ago this weekend, North Korean artillery opened fire along the 38th Parallel, and a war began that claimed the lives of more than 33,000 American soldiers, 100,000 Chinese “volunteers” and 2 million Koreans.

Today, the goal of building a lasting peace remains elusive. In fact, the peninsula is more dangerous than ever. North Korea has twice tested nuclear weapons and is developing missiles to carry them. It has built facilities capable of producing highly enriched uranium for more nuclear weapons. In defiance of a U.N. arms embargo, it continues to export weapons and sensitive technologies to unsavory partners such as Myanmar. And last year, the deadliest since the armistice in 1953, a North Korean torpedo killed 46 South Korean sailors and an artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island killed four more South Koreans.

The U.S. response to all of this has been measured but firm. It has also been inadequate. Read the rest of this entry »

Books: “Nothing to Envy” by Barbara Demick

NOTHING TO ENVY: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2009. xii, 314 pp. (Maps, B&W photos.) US$26.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-385-52390-5. This book review by CanKor Editor-in-chief Erich Weingartner was published in Pacific Affairs, Vol. 83, No. 4, December 2010, pp. 809-810.

Nothing to Envy

It is said that the devil is in the details, but there are plenty of angels in the details as well. It is the details that interest Barbara Demick, Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, as she profiles personal triumph in the midst of the multiple tragedies that have engulfed the people of North Korea. Nothing to Envy reads like a novel, though Demick is a stickler for historical accuracy and has added chapter notes for academic interest.

Having interviewed a hundred North Korean “defectors” in South Korea and China, Demick selected an assortment who represented different social strata in the highly layered class system of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The author weaves a tapestry of contemporary history by means of the personal stories of six North Korean protagonists: a teacher, a doctor, a housewife, a broadcaster, a student and a homeless orphan. Read the rest of this entry »

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