Membership Book Review: "North Korea's Foreign Policy" by Scott Snyder and Kyung-ae Park

September 5, 2023

"This book is an essential resource for [...] thinking about where North Korea might be headed, and how we can shape more effective policy approaches." - Kathleen Stephens, Former United States Ambassador to South Korea

"An important read co-authored by one of our nation’s top scholars of modern North Korea, whose insights and advice were invaluable during the most recent chapter of negotiations with North Korea." - Stephen E. Biegun, Former United States Special Representative to North Korea, 2018-2021

Since Kim Jong-un’s assumption of power in December 2011, North Korea has undergone expanded nuclear development, political isolation, and economic stagnation. Kim’s early prioritization of the byungjin policy, simultaneous economic and military or nuclear development, highlighted his goal of transforming North Korea’s domestic economic circumstances and strengthening its position in the world as a nuclear state. The central dilemma shaping Kim Jong-un’s foreign policy throughout his first decade in power revolves around ensuring North Korea’s prosperity and security while sustaining the political isolation and control necessary for regime survival. In order to evaluate North Korea’s foreign policy under Kim, this volume will examine the impact of domestic factors that have influenced the formation and implementation of Kim’s foreign policy, Kim’s distinctive use of summitry and effectiveness of such meetings as an instrument by which to attain foreign policy goals, and the impact of international responses to North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities on North Korea’s foreign policy.

About the Authors

Scott Snyder is senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where he had served as an adjunct fellow from 2008 to 2011. Prior to joining CFR, Snyder was a senior associate in the international relations program of The Asia Foundation, where he founded and directed the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy and served as The Asia Foundation's representative in Korea (2000-2004). He was also a senior associate at Pacific Forum CSIS. Snyder has worked as an Asia specialist in the research and studies program of the U.S. Institute of Peace and as acting director of Asia Society's contemporary affairs program.  Snyder was a Pantech visiting fellow at Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center during 2005–2006, and received an Abe fellowship, administered by the Social Sciences Research Council, in 1998–99. He has provided advice to NGOs and humanitarian organizations active in North Korea and serves as co-chair of the advisory council of the National Committee on North Korea. 

Snyder has authored numerous book chapters on aspects of Korean politics and foreign policy and Asian regionalism and is the author of The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States (with Brad Glosserman, 2015), China's Rise and the Two Koreas: Politics, Economics, Security (2009), Paved With Good Intentions: The NGO Experience in North Korea (co-editor, 2003), and Negotiating on the Edge: North Korean Negotiating Behavior (1999). 

Snyder is the co-editor of North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society (Rowman and Littlefield, October 2012), and the editor of Middle-Power Korea: Contributions to the Global Agenda (Council on Foreign Relations, June 2015), Global Korea: South Korea's Contributions to International Security (Council on Foreign Relations, October 2012) and The U.S.-South Korea Alliance: Meeting New Security Challenges (Lynne Rienner Publishers, March 2012). He served as the project director for CFR's Independent Task Force on policy toward the Korean Peninsula. He currently writes for the blog, "Asia Unbound."

Snyder received a BA from Rice University and an MA from the regional studies East Asia program at Harvard University and was a Thomas G. Watson fellow at Yonsei University in South Korea.

Professor Kyung-Ae Park holds the Korea Foundation Chair at the Institute of Asian Research of the University of British Columbia (UBC). She is a former President of the Association of Korean Political Studies in North America.

Professor Park is the author, co-author, and editor of many scholarly publications on issues ranging from North and South Korean politics and foreign relations to gender and development, including North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economics, and Society, Non-Traditional Security Issues in North Korea, New Challenges of North Korean Foreign Policy, Korean Security Dynamics in Transition, and China and North Korea: Politics of Integration and Modernization. She has also authored articles in a number of journals, including Comparative Politics, Journal of Asian Studies, Pacific Affairs, Asian Survey, and Pacific Review.

Since the mid-1990s, she has made several trips to Pyongyang and hosted North Korean delegation visits to Canada, playing a key role in promoting Track-II exchanges and diplomacy between Canada and North Korea. She recently set up the Canada-DPRK Knowledge Partnership Program at UBC, which has been hosting North Korean professors as part of a long-term knowledge exchange and thus represents an unprecedented, ground-breaking program in North America.