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The National Committee on North Korea

NCNK Briefing Book on "The Interview"

Last updated January 18, 2014

NCNK's latest briefing book compiles official statements, news stories, and commentary on the film "The Interview" and the cyber attack and threats linked to it. The compilation will be updated as the story continues to develop.

The briefing book is available here

Kim Jong Un's New Year's Speech

January 1, 2015

In his annual New Year's Speech, Kim Jong Un promised the continued development of the North Korea's military, economy, and ideological system. Notably, he stated that "there is no reason why we should not hold a summit meeting [with South Korea] if the atmosphere and environment for it are created," but identified joint U.S.-ROK military exercises as the "root cause of the escalating tension on the peninsula."

On economic policy, Kim called for "proactive efforts to establish the economic management method of our style as demanded by the reality so that all the economic organs and enterprises can conduct their business activities creatively on their own initiative." He expressed the desire to "foster external economic relations in a multilateral way and accelerate the projects for economic development zones including the Wo’nsan-Mt. Ku’mgang international tourist zone." Additionally, Kim called for new mass contruction projects, and for "enterprises to wage a dynamic struggle to get rid of the proclivity to import."

Kim also pledged to "firmly consolidate our self-reliant defence capability with the nuclear deterrent as its backbone," and condemned what he called "the despicable 'human rights' racket" pursued by "the United States and its vassal forces."

The text of the entire speech is available here.

Secretary Kerry on DPRK Human Rights, and the North Korean Response

November 6, 2014

On September 23, following a high-level meeting on North Korean human rights on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a speech condemning Pyongyang's human rights record.

We say to the North Korean Government, all of us here today: You should close those camps. You should shut this evil system down. As the Commission of Inquiry report concludes, “The gravity, scale, and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.” And the commission makes a set of clear recommendations to the DPRK Government. Some are as simple as acknowledging its abuses and holding those responsible to account. Others involve reforming the basic institutions of society.

Earlier this week, a statement by North Korea's Foreign Ministry published in KCNA gave an apparent response to Secretary Kerry's remarks and other U.S. calls for improvements in human rights and a return to denuclearization dialogue. The statement said that North Korea "will never allow any human rights dialogue or nuclear one with the enemy keen to overthrow it."

The present U.S. administration, the present U.S. secretary of State, in particular, unlike the successive U.S. administrations, are officially pursuing a policy for bringing down the state and social system of the DPRK over the "human rights issue", thus reneging on the September 19, 2005 joint statement which calls upon the DPRK and the U.S. to "respect each other's sovereignty and exist peacefully," the statement which laid a basic groundwork for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Revised Issue Brief on U.S. Detainees in the DPRK

October 21, 2014

A revised and updated version of NCNK's issue brief on U.S. detainees held in North Korea is now available. NCNK will continue to update this issue brief as the situation progresses.

The issue brief is available here.

North Korea’s Incheon Landing

October 9, 2014

In an op-ed for Project Syndicate, Kathy Moon, Chair of Korea Studies at the Brookings Institution, assesses North Korea's recent diplomatic outreach to South Korea and elsewhere. Moon argues that there is no clear explanation for North Korea's recent, seemingly contradictory behavior:

North Korea seems to be posing a non-existent united front in order to put pressure on the US to soften its stance toward the DPRK regarding its nuclear program and human-rights record, and to reconsider economic sanctions against the North. Seen in this light, the visit to Incheon was a way to persuade Seoul to put pressure on the US to play nice.

Adding to the mixed messages is the symbolic date of October 4, the seventh anniversary of the 2007 declaration on inter-Korean cooperation signed by the late South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. This could be a positive reminder that the DPRK is seeking to pursue some of the agreements contained in that declaration. On the other hand, the North could be taking advantage of criticism of South Korean President Park Geun-hye by her opponents on the left for failing to include the October 4 agreement in her five-year plan regarding inter-Korean relations.

Complicating matters further, military theatrics resumed just two days after the friendly visit to Incheon, when a boat from the DPRK crossed the disputed Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea, inciting a ten-minute firefight with South Korean forces.


Who We Are

The National Committee is a non-partisan coalition of individuals with extensive and complementary knowledge of and direct experience related to the society, economy, government, and history of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

We are a diverse group. A number of members served as diplomats in some of the landmark U.S.-DPRK negotiations. Some have authored major books on the history, society, and security of the Korean Peninsula. Other members have worked in virtually all parts of North Korea, and on issues related to the country's current economic, humanitarian, refugee, and medical crises. Some of our experience reaches back to the era of the Korean War. Most have extensive contacts in the Republic of Korea, China, Japan, and Russia related to the Korean Peninsula. While the National Committee on North Korea is non-governmental, several of the members have worked in official positions and have ongoing ties with current or past administrations and with the United States Congress.

The idea to form a National Committee on North Korea originated during The Musgrove III Conference held in mid-May 2004, which was attended by many of the founding committee members. The first meeting was held on November 4, 2004.