Archive for the ‘North Korea International Documentation Project (NKIDP)’ Category

DPRK – Cuba relations in 1974

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

The Wilson Center’s North Korea International Documentation Project has posted a number of diplomatic cables from formerly fraternal socialist nations on the DPRK’s efforts to compete with South Korea for influence in the developing world. Below is a specific cable referring to DPRK – Cuban relations. It speaks volumes with masterful brevity (an art sorely lacking in public discourse today):

JANUARY 22, 1974

According to the Cuban ambassador accredited to this country, the DPRK asked Cuba to supply 300.000 metric tons of sugar in 1974. The Cubans replied that they could supply only 80.000 metric tons, and even this amount could be supplied only in quarterly items. If there was any delay in the [Korean] disembarkation of the delivered goods at the end of the quarter, the Cubans would halt the shipments next in line. The Korean trade officials declared that this Cuban measure was incompatible with the policy of mutual assistance that socialist countries pursued toward each other. The Cubans responded that they also needed assistance, and it would greatly help them if they could receive payment for the sugar shipments in a timely manner.

You can read all of the cables in the series here.


Explaining North Korean Migration to China

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

The Wilson Center’s North Korea International Documentation Project (NKIDP) is pleased to announce the release of e-Dossier No. 11, “Explaining North Korean Migration to China.”

The North Korea/China border region is often portrayed as a place of recent North Korean migration that started in the wake of famine of the early 1990s. This common knowledge is, however, only partially true and obscures as much as it illuminates: It ignores and is ignorant of the pre-existing fluidity of legal and illegal migration between the northern DPRK and the northern provinces of China. Importantly, the dominant narrative fails to understand that what was very new about the 1990s was not inter-country migration itself but the reversal of migration flow patterns. Prior to the 1990s, migration between the two countries was mainly a one-way traffic of ethnic Koreans of Chinese nationality heading south towards North Korea.

NKIDP e-Dossier no. 11, “Explaining North Korean Migration to China,” is introduced by Hazel Smith, Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow and Professor in Humanitarianism and Security at Cranfield University, and features 11 translated Chinese documents which provide evidence of historical cases of legal and illegal migration between the DPRK and China.

For more information, click here.


NKIDP: New Romanian evidence on the Blue House eaid and the USS Pueblo incident

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

According to the Wilson Center’s North Korea International Documentation Project (NKIDP):

NKIDP is pleased to announce the release of e-Dossier No. 5, “New Romanian Evidence on the Blue House Raid and the USS Pueblo Incident” and the addition of 28 new documents to its online Digital Archive.

The e-Dossier contains 28 translated documents from Romanian archives on two of the most serious flashpoints since the signing of the 1953 Korean War Armistice: the failed North Korean commando attack and attempted assassination of Park Chung Hee on January 21, 1968, commonly known as the Blue House Raid, and North Korea’s seizure of an American intelligence vessel, the USS Pueblo, on January 23, 1968.

The Romanian documents open an exciting new window into socialist bloc policies and perspectives on the Blue House Raid and the Pueblo crisis.

The e-Dossier features introductions from Mitchell Lerner, associate professor of history and director of the Institute for Korean Studies at The Ohio State University and author of The Pueblo Incident: A Spy Ship and the Failure of American Foreign Policy (University of Kansas Press, 2002), and Jong-Dae Shin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Click here to read “New Romanian Evidence on the Blue House Raid and the USS Pueblo Incident” in full


How failed is the DPRK?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

James Pearson written an excellent article in The Diplomat on the DPRK’s position in the Failed State Index (FSI):

In recent years, North Korea has collected an impressive array of very unflattering superlatives. Whether it be the most “failed”, “corrupt” or “undemocratic” state in the world, it manages to frequently top (or bottom) such rankings and indexes.

It’s a pattern that emerges frequently, and often places North Korea just a few places below Somalia which, in the case of last year’s Failed States Index (FSI) seemed to confusingly suggest that the two states were almost as “failed” as each other. (A strange comparison to make when the absolute power Pyongyang manages to project across North Korea is the total antithesis of the complete anarchy that exists in Mogadishu).

The FSI uses 12 political, social and economic “indicators” to reach its conclusions. Politically, North Korea achieves an impressive 9.9/10 for “de-legitimization of the state” thanks to its “resistance of ruling elites to transparency, accountability and political representation.” Somalia is again a close second, which gains a rival 9.8/10 in the same group, presumably because it isn’t even clear who, or indeed where, the so-called “ruling elites” of Somalia actually are.

It’s therefore puzzling that we award the two states the same title. Somalia is widely recognized to have collapsed, yet while we’ve been talking about a North Korean collapse for over a decade, the regime has remained stable and resilient in the face of famine and economic decline.

Rearranging the FSI in descending order according to social indicators produces dramatically different results. By reorganizing the list by “human flight” (the term used to describe, among other things, the “growth of exile communities”), North Korea drops more than 90 places, landing only two places ahead of South Korea. It should go without saying why “human flight” is a fundamentally flawed method of measuring to what degree North Korea has “failed.”

Indeed, how the FSI managed to obtain any clear and reliable information from North Korea is a mystery. In the weeks following the death of Kim Jong-il and the succession of Kim Jong-un, analysts were quick to draw enormous conclusions derived largely from the memoirs of Kim Jong-il’s former sushi chef, Kenji Fujimoto – a surreal twist in an already bizarre tale.

Read the full article here:
How Failed is North Korea?
The Diplomat
James Pearson


North Korean pilots in the skies over Vietnam (1960s)

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Pictured above: North Korean pilots in North Vietnam (1968).

According to Yonhap:

North Korea dispatched dozens of pilots to the Vietnam War decades ago, with its communist ally short of specialists to operate MiG-17 and MiG-21 fighter jets in battles against the United States, according to a recently released dossier.

“On 21 September 1966 an official North Korean request to be allowed to send a North Korean Air Force regiment to help defend North Vietnam against U.S air attacks was officially reviewed and approved by the Vietnamese Communist Party’s Central Military Party Committee, chaired by General Vo Nguyen Giap,” read the documents taken from an official People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) historical publication.

North Korea’s Chief of the General Staff, Choi Kwang, and his Northern Vietnamese counterpart, Van Tien Dung, held talks three days later to detail Pyongyang’s role in the war.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank in Washington, studied the dossier and made it public on its Web site as part of North Korea International Documentation Project.

In 2000, 25 years after the end of the Vietnam War, North Korea and Vietnam admitted for the first time that North Korea had provided military support in combat against U.S. aircraft.

North Vietnam sought North Korean pilots’ help in training and combat apparently to take advantage of their experience in shooting down U.S. fighter jets during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The newly unveiled dossier show details of North Korea’s military support.

“In late October or during November 1966 North Korea would send Vietnam enough specialists to man a Vietnamese MiG-17 company (a company consisted of ten aircraft),” the two sides agreed in the Sept. 21 1966 talks, adding North Korea would send more specialists to man a second Vietnamese MiG-17 company in later 1966 or early 1967.

“During 1967, after North Korea finished preparing specialists and after Vietnam was able to prepare sufficient aircraft, North Korea would send to Vietnam sufficient specialists to man one Vietnamese MiG-21 company,” they also agreed.

You learn more and download the entire report (PDF) at the Wilson Center’s North Korea International Documentation Project (NKIDP).


Some recent DPRK publications (UPDATED)

Monday, October 31st, 2011

“North Korea on the Cusp of Digital Transformation”
Nautilus Institute
Alexandre Mansurov

“North Korea: An Up-and-Coming IT-Outsourcing Destination”
38 North
Paul Tija, GPI Consulting

“NK People Speak, 2011” (Interviews with North Koreans in China)
Daily NK (PDF)

“The Rise and Fall of Détente on the Korean Peninsula, 1970-1974”
Wilson Center NKIDP
Christian F. Ostermann and James Person
(Coverage of the report in the Donga Ilbo can be found here)

Don’t Expect a Pyongyang Spring Sometime Soon
Center for Strategic and International Studies (via CanKor)
Hazel Smith


North Korea diaspora in North East Asia

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia Program and NKIDP hosted a panel on the North Korean diaspora in North East Asia.

Panelists include:
Apichai Shipper, Visiting Scholar, University of California, Los Angeles;
Hazel Smith,Professor, Cranfield University, U.K.;
Suzanne Scholte,President, Defense Forum Foundation

I have not seen the panel yet, but it is in the queue for this weekend.

Watch the entire event here.


New NKIDP report: Crisis and Confrontation on the Korean Peninsula: 1968-1969

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

The Wilson Center’s North Korea International Documentation Project (NKIDP) has published another manuscript in the Critical Oral History Conference Series: Crisis and Confrontation on the Korean Peninsula: 1968-1969

Download PDF here

The Donga Ilbo reported on this paper:

Armed North Korean spies caught while trying to storm South Korea’s presidential office to assassinate then President Park Chung-hee on Jan. 21, 1968, are known to have also planned to attack the U.S. Embassy.

When the North seized the American intelligence ship USS Pueblo in waters off the North Korean port of Wonsan two days later, the U.S. planned to immediately mobilize F-4 Phantom fighters to bomb the North. This plan was shelved, however, because the U.S. Air Force lacked devices for loading conventional weapons required for an air strike.

This information was derived from a compilation of declassified documents from 1968-69 titled, “Crisis on the Korean Peninsula and Standoff” obtained exclusively by The Dong-A Ilbo from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington Monday.

The documents were compiled after the center held in September 2008 a closed forum with 15 experts and seven former U.S. officials who worked in both Koreas and China in the late 1960s.

Through the forum, the U.S. think tank comprehensively analyzed classified documents 1,285 pages in volume, including those from the former Soviet Union and the Eastern European bloc like the former East Germany and Romania.

Those who attended the forum included Horst Brie, former East German Ambassador to North Korea; Walter Cutler, former political adviser to the U.S. ambassador to South Korea; Thomas Hughes, former director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. State Department; James Leonard, former chief of the Korea Desk at the State Department; and David Reuter, analyst for Northeast Asia at the U.S. National Security Agency.

Also at the event were Kang In-duk, former South Korean unification minister, and Yoon Ha-jeong, former South Korean vice foreign minister.

Leonard said, “According to multiple documents considered classified at the time, North Korea’s seizure of the USS Pueblo constituted an emergency situation. After the incident was reported to the U.S. Air Force, F-4 Phantoms were to be mobilized within several minutes but did not take off because they only were equipped with devices for loading nuclear weapons but none for loading conventional weapons.”

“The USS Pueblo incident was apparently a disgrace to the U.S.,” he said, adding, “With security concerns heightened at the time and Seoul’s presidential office under attack, the U.S. Defense Department should have been prepared to protect the Pueblo by mobilizing the Air Force when necessary.”

Ultimately, Washington merely mobilized the nuclear aircraft carrier Enterprise and two Aegis destroyers from the U.S. Navy`s 7th Fleet.

Kang, who served as the first chief of the North Korea intelligence bureau at the (South) Korean Central Intelligence Agency, said, “Armed North Korean spies, including Kim Shin-jo, originally had five targets including the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, (South Korean) Army headquarters, Seoul Prison and Seobinggo North Korean Spy Detention Camp.”

“But judging that the targets were too scattered, the North reduced the group of armed spies to 31 from the originally planned 35, and only targeted the presidential office.”

Through interrogation of Kim, Seoul secured intelligence that the spies originally had the U.S. Embassy as a target but it did not inform Washington of this finding.

Cutler, who was stationed in Seoul at the time, said, “We had no prior intelligence that the embassy was a target and thus took no special security measures in this regard.”


NKIDP Working Paper series

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s North Korea International Documentation Project has launched a working paper series which draws from their unique archives of diplomatic papers from formerly socialist countries.  The second working paper in the series has just been released, you may download them both from the links below:

1. Charles Armstrong, “Juche And North Korea’s Global Aspirations,” Spetember 2009

2. Bernd Schaefer, “Overconfidence Shattered: North Korean Unification Policy, 1971 -1975,” December 2010

According to the Wilson Center’s web page, they also just received over 2,000 pages of Romanian documents:

NKIDP would like to thank Eliza Gheorghe, a PhD student in History at Oxford University, for obtaining on behalf of NKIDP over 2,000 pages of newly declassified Romanian archival documents on relations with North Korea in the late 1960s and 1970s. The collection brings together minutes of conversations between North Korean leaders and Romanian officials with daily communications from the Romanian embassy in Pyongyang between the critical period 1966-1968. Other documents report on the inner-workings and foreign relations of North Korea from 1970-1979.


Wilson Center NKIDP document readers

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s North Korea International Documentation Project has published some more great document readers compiled from archives in the Soviet Union, USA, ROK, China, Hungary, Romania, Poland and East Germany.

The Rise and Fall of the Detente on the Korean Peninsula: 1970-1974
Download PDF here
A collection of archival documents on inter-Korean, US-ROK and DPRK-Communist bloc relations from 1970 to 1974 compiled in preparation for a 1-2 July 2010 conference.

New Evidence on North Korea
Download PDF here
New archival documents from Russia, China, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Poland and (East) Germany on North Korean history from 1955-1984.

New Evidence on the Korean War
Download PDF here
New documentary evidence on the Korean War from Russian, Polish and other archives. Compiled in connection with the 16-17 June 2010 conference New Documents and New Histories: Twenty-First Century Perspectives on the Korean War.

A press conference was held at the Truman Presidential Library announcing the release of the latter two Document Readers–which was carried on C-SPAN. You can watch it here.