North Korea: Is Change Afoot?

Are there gen­uine signs of pos­i­tive change in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic People’s Repub­lic of Korea under the country’s new lead­er­ship? That’s the ques­tion Vic­tor Cha, a not­ed author­i­ty on North Korea, will address in a brown-bag pre­sen­ta­tion at the East-West Cen­ter on Mon­day, August 19, 2013.

image: Kim Jong-unWhen Kim Jong-un suc­ceed­ed his father, Kim Jong-il, the junior Kim seemed young, inex­pe­ri­enced, and unqual­i­fied. Eigh­teen months lat­er, he appears to be rid­ing high in Pyongyang. His régime’s new ways include pro­mul­gat­ing high heels and miniskirts for women, com­mis­sion­ing amuse­ment parks and (pirat­ed) Walt Dis­ney pro­duc­tions for chil­dren, and host­ing for­mer NBA play­er Den­nis Rod­man. At the same time, the régime has over­seen a series of mis­sile and nuclear tests and threat­ened the Unit­ed States with nuclear annihilation. 

Is Kim Jong-un a mod­ern ruler or are he and his entourage ridicu­lous­ly out of touch? Is there any sem­blance of con­struc­tive or pos­i­tive change afoot in this coun­try under this new lead­er­ship? Those are the main top­ics for Cha’s pre­sen­ta­tion from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall 3012 on August 19.

image: Victor ChaVic­tor Cha holds the D.S. Song-Korea Foun­da­tion Chair in Gov­ern­ment and Asian Stud­ies at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty, where he is direc­tor of the East Asia Nation­al Resource Cen­ter and the new M.A. pro­gram in Asian stud­ies. He for­mer­ly served on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil staff as direc­tor of Asian affairs, and as the U.S. deputy head of del­e­ga­tion for the Six Par­ty talks. His new book is The Impos­si­ble State: North Korea, Past and Future (Ecco, 2013). Cha is also a POSCO vis­it­ing fel­low at the East-West Center.