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Workshop: North Korea after the 7th Party Congress

–  Political and Economic Perspectives


The situation on the Korean Peninsula experienced another critical decline in 2016. The 4th nuclear test, the launch of a satellite and several, partially failed, rocket launches – all similar moves to those that brought sanctions by previous UN Security Council resolutions. The reactions to the most recent actions were severe – new resolutions by the UN, the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex by South Korea and financial restrictions from several countries - just to mentioned a few of the numerous bilateral and unilateral measures.


On the other hand, many see engagement and cooperation still as a tool to contribute to a change in North Korea. The affluent middle-class, that develops step by step, the opening of the market systems and small-scale economic reforms, such as the creation of Special Economic Zones, are just a few of a number of signals that things are changing. Additionally, the 7th Party Congress was expected to set new circumstances in North Korea.


Within this context of a slow, but obvious change in economic terms and a simultaneous increasing confrontation in political terms, this workshop, co-hosted by the Hans Seidell Foundation and YINKS will discuss political and economic perspectives after the 7th Party Congress.

The 1st North Korean Review Conference on North Korean Studies:  Trends, Perceptions, and Realities 
October 14-15th 2015


We would like to invite all those interested to attend North Korean Review’s first international conference on North Korean Studies held from October 14th to 15th  2015.


Current research on North Korea tends to focus on the same old topics. These include, six party talks, human rights, economic development, regime stability, and refugee issue.  While these are all very important, it is also necessary to recognize that this represents a stagnation of the field of North Korean Studies.  Especially if no new methodological framework or research agenda comes to light from such efforts. In order to reignite scholarly interest in North Korean Studies, it is necessary to think outside the box. Therefore, the editorial board of North Korean Review took it upon themselves to try to offer new ways to look at old problems. From this effort the following panel ideas resulted.


We are currently calling for panel appropriate paper proposals of no more than 250 words. Submissions and further inquiries may be directed to


More information is available at the conference website.


Panel 1: Capitalism in North Korea


Recently, there has been a great deal of interest in businesses in North Korea. How they function, the challenges they face, and how successful they are are all points of interest.  In addition, the recent semi privatization of agriculture also has created interest in how this marketization has occurred and how it is progressing. This goes against typical research on North Korea focused on the failures of the state run economy and ways to save the North Korean economy.  Furthermore, it shows that reform in North Korea may be more possible than the usual pessimistic predictions.

Panel 2: North Korea as a Nuclear Power


Unfortunately, 25 years of dealing with North Korea has not yielded a solution to the nuclear issue.  With the enshrining of North Korea’s status as a nuclear power in their constitution, many do not see a solution to the North Korean nuclear issue. North Korea does not want to give up nuclear weapons and the six party talks members do not seem to be willing to offer enough to make them change their minds. In light of this impasse, there should be a discussion of what accepting North Korea as a nuclear power would mean.  In likelihood, the importance of economic co-operation would come to the fore to ensure the stability of the regime. This would require better relations with North Koreaon the part of South Korea and the US, at least if they want to play a role in the process. Could this be the solution to the long drawn out problem?


Panel 3: North Korea's Friends


While North Korea is usually viewed as a rogue state with few allies, this is not entirely true.  In fact, while six party talks members China and Russia are often portrayed as Pyongyang’s only friends, North Korea has normalized ties and diplomatic missions in a number of countries. Recent articles in NKR have examined North Korea’s relationship with Mongolia and Sweden. Therefore, this panel hopes to shed light on the often ignored side of North Korea, it’s diplomacy. By discussing how other states created and maintain good relations with Pyongyang it is hoped that there may be some insight gained into how relations with North Korea may be pursued in a constructive way.

Panel 4: Overcoming and Addressing Challenges of North Korean Studies


North Korea is one of the most mysterious nation states on earth. The control of the flow of information out of the country by the state is unparalleled in earth’s history. This creates a huge difficulty for scholars studying North Korea and indeed it casts suspicion on the very idea of a North Korean expert.  After all, how can anyone claim to have the full picture of any aspect of North Korea? Therefore, it requires some creative problem solving to overcome this issue. This panel’s aim is to discuss some ways scholars might have of bridging the information gaps and bringing new methodological methods to reinvigorate the field.

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