CanKor Brain Trust on the Current Situation in the DPRK
by Paul Evans, Victor Hsu, Hazel Smith, Hark Kroll, Jeremy Paltiel and Jack Kim
Ottawa Round Table on Humanitarian Aid in the Current North Korean Context, 5 March 2012
Q: What dangers and opportunities can you foresee in the evolving situation?
Paul Evans, Professor, Liu Institute for Global Issues; Director, Institute of Asian Research, UBC:
Why assume that the KJU era will be any different? My only glimpse into the fog is the signal from the group that attended the six-month training program here that it was business as usual for a second phase, with no changes expected. I had dinner with a DPRK diplomat in Bangkok as part of an ARF meeting and more or less out of the blue he asked me how the UBC training program had gone and how we could find ways to get more DPRK students to Canada in future. Really out of context and it may be that he only guessed at a connection and my interest by seeing my card. But…
Victor Hsu, Visiting Professor, School of Public Policy and Management , Korea Development Institute (KDI), Seoul:
From my perspective, assuming that ROK maintains its current attempt to reverse the LMB policy, opportunities are going to increase. I don’t believe there will be any continuation of refusal to provide humanitarian aid. Both main parties in ROK are framing renewed engagement, as is the USA. EU will follow suit.
Hazel Smith, Professor of Resilience and Security, Cranfield University, UK:
The DPRK government is far from unique in being culpable of poor governance and failing to meet the food needs of its people. Arguing that the DPRK humanitarian and food crises are unique is wrong in advocacy terms because it reinforces the politicisation of aid to the DPRK in its emphasis on the ‘exceptionally awful’ case of the DPRK.
The reasons for food shortages and economic failure in the DPRK are prosaic. Like very large numbers of governments, the DPRK government lacks oil (to generate revenue), suffered the withdrawal of external subsidies, has an obsolescent economic infrastructure in every respect, and is governed by a non-democratic, economically illiterate and inept government. Read the rest of this entry »