What next for North Korea?
January 9th, 2014
09:12 AM ET

What next for North Korea?

North Korea has been back in the headlines. From the execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle to former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s latest trip to Pyongyang, events tied to the so-called Hermit Kingdom have left many observers scratching their heads.

So what does it all mean? Is Kim firmly in control of the country? How does his leadership compare with that of his late father’s? Is Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” likely to be effective?

Daniel Pinkston, deputy project director for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group, will be taking GPS readers' questions on North Korea. Please leave your questions in the comments section below.

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Topics: North Korea

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. pig Kim

    I do not do that a nuisance is good only by the Korea race existing

    January 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  2. Dr. G. Hooper

    I suspect that Kim will play a serious gambit in the near future, utilizing the upcoming defensive exercises for his pretexts. At best, it'll be a major cyber attack on SK/US military and civilian infrastructure. At worst, an invasion of the Western NLL islands or a subdued shelling of Seoul.

    My question: How will we respond? Obama's response to Syrian chemical weapons usage must have seriously undermined our image of deterrence.

    January 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    How strong and powerful is North Korea's army and is Kim Jong-un in charge of the nuclear button? It looks as if North Korea has an Egyptian-style of military. Kim is only kept in power because he is the grandson of Kim Il-sung and that North Koreans aren't ready to see an Egyptian-style of coup staged by a North Korean Gamal Abdel Nasser.

    January 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  4. Danro

    My question is about South Korea and it's long term plans.
    What is South Korea doing or should do in order to facilitate reunification?
    I ask this because all of the talk is on North Korea and its crazy antics. Everyone is trying to predict the unpredictable. North Korea exits because of China and China will never let go of North Korea as long as it thinks it has an advantage by keeping it. So back to my question regarding the South and its long term goals. It seems to me that South Korea has ignored China. As far as I can tell it is not invested in China the same way say Taiwan is. North Korean refugees are imprisoned or returned to North Korea if caught in China. Why is South Korea, a country that is wealthier, not doing more to push its weight around with China and make itself more import than North Korea? Most young people love KPop and Korea dramas in China and at the same time have a low view of North Korea. Why then has this not translated into better relations?
    Everyone seems to think the the Korean situation will play out like East and West Germany. The Communist East loosing and joing the free West. But so far the only thing that seems to be happening is that the Communist North will become a puppet state or new province(unlikely) of China.

    January 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  5. Mark

    My Question – What do you think is China's real stance on North Korea? How close are they these days, and what is the major Chinese public opinion on it?

    January 9, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Reply
    • Jack

      As an expert on North Korea (I even worked in the British Embassy in Pyongyang) I can tell you that the bulk of China's population is becoming increasingly angry at North Korea They feel it is embarrassing for China to be seen to support an immature and irresponsible nation. The Chiese government itself basically stabbed North Korea in the back economically when it gave diplomatic recognition to South Korea in (I think) 1988. The Chinese government certainly does not control the North Korean government as it has reduced the amount of aid given to their Communist neighbour after most nuclear tests/ launches etc. and their state owned news agency Xinhua always condemns the incidents whenever they happen.
      China will not abandon North Korea not because of the fact that they don't want a U.S. ally right on its border (and potentially U.S. troops), which is an outdated view as the U.S. would never start a war with China because they both depend so much on each other (Also consider it would be WW3!), but because of the historical friendship between China and North Korea, said to be "As close as lips are to teeth". China was the only reason why the Korean war ended with no winner, its army pushed the U.N. army back to and past the 38th parallel. The historical significance of the relationship is worth spending the equivalent of some loose change every year for China. But there is another reason, if North Korea collapsed, China fears a flood of refugees coming from North Korea. This would significantly damage the already small and fragile economies of North East China. China prefers peace and calm on the Korean peninsula so that there is no risk to its provinces or its reputation. That is why China is supporting North Korea, but who knows whets it will still be in another decade?.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:03 am | Reply
  6. Amanda

    How many people will be chosen in their upcoming election?

    January 10, 2014 at 12:30 am | Reply
  7. Dave S.

    Never heard of ping pong diplomacy? I am sure Kim has. And Mao, alive then, killed like Stalin. The next question is not why Dennis Rodman, but why only Dennis Rodman? If Kim wants to talk, then talk. Nothing else has worked so far.

    January 10, 2014 at 1:06 am | Reply
  8. ori

    what wiil be the next provocation of north korea? it will againts south korea or a missile test?

    January 10, 2014 at 4:24 am | Reply
  9. Mephistopheles

    If there's factionalism among the power elite as evidenced by the uncle's execution, and we hypothetically assume they overthrow Kim Jong Un, who or what would take his place?

    I can only see elders among the ranks preserving the status quo who not only restore the Confucian gerontocratic order, but also because they would simply not know how to run a different system of government. North Korean glasnost & perestroika? Doubtful as I'm sure they saw what happened to the Soviet Union with those policies. Even more doubtful as NK appears to have killed off their most capable man (the uncle) to introduce and facilitate incremental yet beneficial changes.

    And with the uncle whacked, does this now mean China & North Korea have distanced themselves? Who is now the "red phone" of ambassadorial contact bridging any issues between the countries going forward?

    Moreover, what kind of propaganda efforts are taking place to sow "enlightenment" upon the North Korean population? Voice of America/SK broadcasts? Leaflets with pictures of Western grocery stores dispersed above their celebrations in the stadiums (heck, why not sneak in and replace all the colorful placards they hold up for the crowd imagery? If MIT/CalTech can do this ...) How about battery/solar-powered DVD players with built-in viewing screens?

    As a defense against any invading NK force I'd build huge, well-stocked grocery stores just across the border. They'll stop in their tracks in no time.

    January 10, 2014 at 4:31 am | Reply
  10. Non Korean

    We should not be that naive and think that South Koreans are any different from North Koreans – nevertheless they have mutual industry and secret military complexes – and we should not trust any of them. US government should not import anything from Korea (neither North nor South) and should not endanger us with exposing to 'korean undercover secret enemies networks' – it is for our security – Americans should love their children – also.

    January 10, 2014 at 6:59 am | Reply
  11. Paul Scanlon

    This situation needs to. Come to a head sooner or later. The regime and it's crimes are going to truly shock the world when the country finally collapses.

    For what it's worth, I recently joined a group on Facebook called ' North Korea Study Group'. If you are interested in this topic and from hearing many viewpoints on this issue I would highly recommend it.

    My views are pretty straightforward. Liberty needs to be finally shone on the North Korea people. The regime is just evil. Simple.

    January 10, 2014 at 7:36 am | Reply
  12. JEICH

    Can the US and allied powers make any attempts to liberate the North Korean labor camps? They can easily be spotted on Google maps and, according to survivors, on the level of inhumane that no powerful country should ignore. Can nothing be done for them?

    January 10, 2014 at 10:18 am | Reply
  13. Jiang

    Strike forth, brothers, and end evil

    January 10, 2014 at 10:38 am | Reply
  14. JMP

    dennis rodman is and has always been a reject of life and education,one can only hope that he gets himself thrown in one of those prison camps so he can truly understand the fate of tens of thousands of innocent people who will most likely never see the light of day,he is obviously looking for attention,and trying to gain financially as he is probably broke.

    January 10, 2014 at 11:55 am | Reply
  15. Vu

    My question: Will North Korea open its economy in this time of hardship? And will North Korea try to improve the relationship with the South and the Capitalist countries?

    January 10, 2014 at 11:56 am | Reply
  16. John

    What's next for North Korea? - No place in civilized western world!

    January 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  17. Curious NGO

    What kind of role do you believe civil society can play in resolving the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and what do you believe the potential impact of engagement on a Track II / III level could be?

    January 10, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  18. Joe

    My question is simple. When is Michael Jordan going to play in north korea?

    January 10, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  19. Namida

    How can we be so sure that what we're hearing isn't just US propaganda?

    January 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  20. Tired of the same old same old

    No more sanctions! Years of sanctions are hurting the innocent people of North Korea. As Joel Klein said, kill the ruling regime with kindness – don't deny humanitarian aid to the innocent people of North Korea which Obama has done – do engage with the present regime as it is too late to strike while the iron was hot, during the 1990's, the height of the fall of communism, the time to have forcefully freed the people from the gulags as we had just done in Eastern Europe at that time. Feed the people – help them – surely we can find a way to reach them with or without the present regime's help – don't confuse politics with doing the right thing by the people of North Korea

    January 11, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Reply
    • Not reality

      This is not reality. South Korea is one of the strongest nations and has joint secret military program with North Korea. Despite the democracy in South Korea, secret korean intelligence networks do 'dirty business operations' globaly. We should limit imports also from South Korea.

      January 12, 2014 at 9:31 am | Reply
  21. charles candy

    I wonder what will happen after he drain out the state fund

    January 13, 2014 at 9:19 am | Reply

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