Steph Haggard at the Korea Herald

February 6, 2015 7:00 AM

In an interview with the Korea Herald, Stephan Haggard touches on a number of themes in recent posts on the blog. With Washington unable to move, the initiative on the peninsula is only likely to come from Seoul, assuming, that is, that Pyongyang has any interest. Lifting the post-Cheonan sanctions―although unpopular on the right―would be one way to test the waters with surprisingly little risk; the regime either is serious about its efforts to open to foreign investment and trade or not.

Another theme is whether the effort to diversify to Russia is likely to offset growing dependence on China. Don’t hold your breath; the initiatives look political as much as commercial to us and if Russia wants to throw money at North Korea, we can only say “good luck with that.”

The entire interview can be found here.

Comments

Roland

Stephan, Russia isn´t "throwing" money at North Korea but investing with a big return. It is getting access to rare earths in breaking the Chinese monopoly.
And the US or South Korea ?
Those remain in their strategic pitfall.
Putin seems to be clever, Obama unfortunately not.

Liars N. Fools

Russia's North Korea account has an " insufficient funds" red flag. The Chinese want the extractive ventures and may one day want to actually connect their Northeast to the South, but Pyongyang and Beijing leaders really dislike each other, and the North is once again trying to see if it can play a Russian card. This time, the Chinese are not biting, and if Moscow and Beijing continue to ramp up collusion, it will not be because of North Korea. Prof. Haggard is fundamentally correct in pushing for the South's engagement of the North. That the North is so far reluctant reflects the greater risk for Pyongyang. The success of the South, economically, socially, politically, culturally, coupled with its credibility with its neighbors and the broader community constitutes the biggest threat to the viability of the Kim Jong Un regime. Strategically we should deter by continuing to ramp up pressure to try to get a serious dialogue on the missile and nuclear programs and at the same time channel the North towards the South to get the DPRK on a path that may ultimately lead to the demise of the Kim regime but provide human security and dignity to the North Korean people.

Roland

Dear Colleage L.n.F, your "strategy" isn´t working. It´s the same futile medicine of the past.
Stephan is right: The only chance for the South getting in offensive, is to lifting its sanctions. Unilaterally.

Adam Cathcart

Great interview, very wide ranging and helpful. Most interesting was: 'Haggard: I still think it is too early to be pessimistic. [We] have tracked reform efforts over the last three years. There is some evidence that Kim Jong-un tried some modest reforms in 2012, but these did not move forward or were rolled back...New signs of reform efforts, although modest, are now leaking out. But the regime appears to have placed the greatest emphasis on attracting foreign direct investment when the most important reforms are ultimately domestic.' That perhaps quixotic emphasis on FDI was most recently borne out in a longish essay published in Beijing by a DPRK foreign affairs academic, which among other things touted the 'special economic zones' (经济特区开发). In English (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/905887.shtml) and Chinese (http://opinion.huanqiu.com/opinion_world/2015-02/5587486.html). DPRK diplos seem to occasionally tout changes in domestic economic management even though they are not terribly clear on what precisely those changes entail.

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