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#AsiaNow Speaks with Jaeeun Kim

Jaeeun Kim is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Michigan. She is author of Contested Embrace: Transborder Membership Politics in Twentieth-Century Korea, published by Stanford University Press and recipient of the 2018 AAS James B. Palais Book Prize Honorable Mention. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. My book analyzes transborder membership politics in and around the Korean peninsula, focusing on the complex relationships between the states in the Korean peninsula, colonial-era ethnic Korean migrants and their descen­dants, and the states in which they have resided. The book explores when, how, and why a state seeks to claim a certain transborder population as “its own,” and how transborder coethnics participate in this process as they seek long-distance membership on their own terms. The spatio-temporal scope of the book covers critical politico-legal and social transformations in northeast Asia ...

The Cold War Never Ended: Historical Roots of the Current North Korea Crisis

By Suzy Kim With tensions at an all-time high between the United States and North Korea, the New York Times headlined its recent digital newsletter with Lies Your High School History Teacher Told You About Nukes. The basic point was to debunk the theory of “mutually assured destruction” that is often used to explain why the Cold War remained cold and did not result in a nuclear holocaust. The article argues that despite possessing a nuclear arsenal that guaranteed “mutually assured destruction,” both the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a costly arms race that attempted to outmaneuver the other with more numerous and powerful warheads, delivered with more precise and faster missiles. This happened not because they wanted to engage in actual nuclear warfare, but because of the threat that the other could “escape” mutually assured destruction, fight back, and win. This justified pursuing weaponry that could, in theory, take out the other side before it could ...

A Brief History of the North Korean-Myanmar Friendship

By Maria Rosaria Coduti “Dangerous bedfellows,” “rogue brothers in arms,” and “friends in need” are some of the expressions experts and journalists have used to describe North Korea-Myanmar [Burma] relations in the past. In 2005, then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled Myanmar an “outpost of tyranny,” a feature that saw the country enter the club of the “pariah states” along with Cuba, Iran, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and North Korea. However, just four years later, the newly elected Obama administration reviewed American policy toward Myanmar and shifted to one based on the pragmatic engagement of Naypyidaw, the country’s capital, which inaugurated a new era of the Southeast Asian country’s relations with the U.S. and with both Western and Asian actors as a consequence. According to some political analysts, this new policy was either a tile of a broader U.S. rebalancing strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region, the so-called ...

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