Frontline World

NORTH KOREA - Suspicious Minds, January 2003

Related Features THE STORY
Synopsis of "Suspicious Minds"

Short History: U.S.-North Korea Conflict

Versions of the Truth

Learn More about North Korea

Nuclear Weapons, Military History, Humanitarian Issues




Links and Resources

• General Background
• The Korean War and the Cold War
• Humanitarian Crises
• The Nuclear Threat
• Negotiations Between North and South
• Media Resources

General Background

U.S. State Department: North Korea Profile
At this U.S. State Department Web site, visitors can access facts-at-a-glance about North Korea. You'll also find links to other government resources, such as the CIA's World Factbook and, from its Country Studies series, the Library of Congress's report on North Korea. Learn more about the United States' official policy toward North Korea, crystallized in a 1999 report authored by former Secretary of Defense William D. Perry. The report outlines the terms under which the administration of President Clinton promised to normalize relations with North Korea and lift economic sanctions. Recent press releases issued by the State Department in the wake of North Korea's admission to pursuing nuclear weapons development also are found here.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
This official Web site of the North Korean government proclaims: "The Great Leader Kim Il-sung Will Always Be With Us!" The site offers information on the "hermit kingdom" from a distinctly North Korean perspective. It can be accessed in many languages (including Esperanto) and offers commentary on politics, history, society and even unification with the South. Reunification between North and South, one writer asserts, is impeded by a "big concrete wall in the Parallel 38 that was built by the United States of America ... ." Souvenirs emblazoned with images of the leaders of the world's sole communist dynasty are available. So are pitches for potential business opportunities for entrepreneurs wishing to join the ranks of Fiat and ABB in economic partnerships with North Korea. Curious to hear jingles from North Korea with lyrics like "Don't ask my name" and "No motherland without you"? How about the hymn of the Korean Friendship Association, "Song of National Defence"? You'll find them streamed online here.

BBC Country Profile: North Korea
From BBC News comes an online country profile of North Korea. Visitors find a rich repository of interactive multimedia resources for understanding the historical context leading up to the current nuclear standoff between North Korea and the United States. Features include a chronological timeline of key events, streamed audio containing the North Korean national anthem, a glimpse into what life is like in the "hermit kingdom" and an overview of North Korea's nuclear development program.

"Inside North Korea's Ruling Elite"
Conventional wisdom is that Kim Jong-il, North Korea's eccentric, autocratic leader, is the undisputed architect of the country's key national and international policies, just as his father was. This timely analysis available through Asia Intelligence Ltd.'s online reference library suggests that the situation is more complicated, offering a trove of information about the political elite in North Korea. (AsiaInt Political and Strategic Review, January 2003)

The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability Development
A Berkeley, California-based NGO and consulting organization, the Nautilus Institute commissions original reports and essays on North Korean energy and security considerations. Check out "North Korea Hot Box" for current North Korea resources.

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The Korean War and Cold War

Korea: States of War
This special interactive feature by appeared in 2000, the year that marked the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. Features include a timeline of Korean peninsula history, interviews with Korean War veterans, profiles of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, as well as a quiz to test your knowledge of Korean history.

Korean War Commemoration
"Freedom Is Not Free" is the slogan emblazoned on the official Korean War Commemoration Flag at this U.S. Department of Defense Web site. The site was created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War (June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953). Find out more about the flag and the commemoration events, which began on June 25, 2000, and will continue through November 11, 2003. A calendar of events designed to honor the service of Korean War veterans is available, as are photo galleries and resources for educators.

PBS NewsHour: Interview With Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
In October 2000, then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the first American official to visit communist North Korea and meet with its leader, Kim Jong-il. In this interview, conducted by PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer, Albright talks about the impetus for the visit, her impressions of the enigmatic North Korean leader and the gravity of the security threat posed by North Korea's military buildup. The interview was conducted two years before North Korea's admission that it had been pursuing its nuclear weapons program in secret.

PBS NewsHour "Easing Sanctions": Interview With Special Envoy William Perry
U.S. economic sanctions were placed against North Korea after its 1950 invasion of South Korea and the ensuing Korean War. In 1999, after a North Korean launch of a midrange missile over Japan, former Secretary of Defense William Perry was dispatched by President Clinton to North Korea. A deal was subsequently brokered to remove nonsensitive sanctions in exchange for North Korea's suspension of long-range missile tests. In this PBS NewsHour interview, conducted by Margaret Warner, Perry talks about North Korea's missile technology, the easing of sanctions, and his own belief that "deterrence is stable unless nuclear weapons and missiles are introduced."

U.S. News Online: Cold War Resources
Here's an online portal for exhaustive resources on the Cold War. You can access a historical timeline spanning 40 years of milestone events. The site features links to useful resources, such as the Harvard Project on Cold War Studies, and also to declassified documents.

Foreign Policy in Focus
Foreign Policy in Focus styles itself as a "think tank without walls" whose more than 650 foreign policy analysts and advocates attempt to advance a socially and environmentally responsible "citizen-based foreign policy agenda." The index page features original publications assessing the impact of the election of South Korea's new leader, Roh Moo-hyun, on relations between the United States and North and South Korea.

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Humanitarian Crisis

World Food Programme
The United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP) is the largest international aid organization operating in North Korea. Since famine broke out in North Korea in 1995, the agency has provided 2 million tons of donor food aid, mostly from the United States, worth an estimated $500 million. Find out more about WFP activities and the $200 million emergency aid relief program targeting urban North Koreans left out of the state-run food distribution system.

"Seven Million Koreans Facing Starvation"
The WFP has helped feed millions of North Koreans since the 1995 famine outbreak. In the wake of North Korea's admission of secret nuclear weapons development, food aid to North Korea is jeopardized. Both South Korea and Japan recently suspended food donations. According to the WFP, donor allocations of 77,000 tons of food are "urgently required" to cover relief food assistance in North Korea through summer 2003. (Jasper Becker, The Independent, January 3, 2003)

UNICEF Alert! keeps people abreast of current emergencies and crises facing children throughout the world. Its Web page on the situation in North Korea explains the extent of the humanitarian crisis in North Korea. One-third of the nation's people are now dependent upon food aid from U.N. agencies. North Korean government officials refuse to allow independent monitoring of the country's food distribution system and have impeded food aid deliveries to large swaths of the population, including to children, 60 percent of whom suffer from malnutrition.

The Humanitarian Practice Network: "Manipulating Humanitarian Crisis in North Korea"
The Humanitarian Practice Network, created in 1994, is a London-based organization that aims to bridge the gap between public policy analysts and relief organizations. This recent report takes a controversial look at the political ramifications of the famine in North Korea and how, as the author asserts, "human need is used to conceal political agendas, both by the regime in Pyongyang and by the key outside powers with an interest in maintaining it." (Jean Fabrice-Pietri, April 3, 2002, in the Humanitarian Network Practice Report)

U.S. Committee for Refugees Country Report: North Korea 2002
According to this group, 50,000 refugees from North Korea were living clandestinely in China in 2001. Other estimates from NGOs, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres, place the number of refugees currently living in China far higher -- at 200,000 or more. If these refugees are caught by Chinese officials and sent back to North Korea, they face a death penalty for fleeing the nation. Learn about the plight of North Korean refugees, including the desperate measures they've taken to flee famine and economic ruin.

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The Nuclear Threat

Agreed Framework Between the United States of America and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
In October 2002, while in Pyongyang, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly was informed by his North Korean counterparts that North Korea had revived its nuclear weapons program. This resumption of nuclear weapons development was, according to the U.S. State Department, a "material breach" of an agreement forged eight years earlier between the two nations in which North Korea agreed to give up pursuit of nuclear weapons technology in return for a foreign aid package totaling $5 billion. The agreement also included a commitment by the United States to help build light-water reactor power plants in North Korea. Read the text of the historic 1994 Agreed Framework, made available online by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

International Atomic Energy Agency
In December 2002, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were expelled from North Korea. North Korean officials also destroyed surveillance cameras and monitoring equipment, and they broke IAEA locks, enabling their entry into nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, where 8,000 nuclear fuel rods have been stored since 1994. The IAEA homepage has links to key documents in the nuclear standoff with North Korea, including statements from IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and the latest resolution adopted by the agency's governing board.

"The North Korean Nuclear Crisis"
This report presented by the Nuclear Control Institute in 1994 provides a useful overview for understanding the current nuclear standoff. According to the report, North Korea's nuclear weapons program got under way in the 1980s with the construction of a small nuclear reactor. North Korea then yielded to international pressure and joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1985. Before its recent withdrawal from the treaty, several violations were committed by North Korea, including shutting down a reactor so that fuel rods could be reprocessed for the extraction of plutonium. (Paul Leventhal and Steven Dolley, June 16, 1994)

Nuclear Threat Initiative
This group was founded in 2001 by news mogul Ted Turner and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. The Nuclear Threat Initiative looks for ways to reduce the global threat posed by nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. An online research library features a wealth of detailed information about North Korea's arsenals of suspected nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Maps of suspected sites are included, along with descriptions and chronologies of activity in various facilities where such weapons are made.

"Nuclear Diplomacy on North Korea Since 1985"
This useful timeline, presented by, provides a chronological snapshot of the past 17 years of formative events in nuclear diplomacy between North Korea, its neighbors and the West. Included is a May 1992 declaration by the North Korean government that seven sites were to be subject to IAEA inspection. Information about the December 2002 removal of IAEA monitoring equipment and surveillance cameras in nuclear facilities is also available here. (Reuters Foundation, January 10, 2003)

"North Korea Tests Bush's Policy on Preemption"
This article by Washington Post staff writer Michael Dobbs takes a critical look at the Bush administration's "preemption" policy as it relates to threats posed by Iraq and North Korea. (January 6, 2003)

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Negotiations Between North and South

"Engaging North Korea: Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy"
This article provides a good overview of the key tenets of the Sunshine Policy promoted by Kim Dae-jung, former president of South Korea. The policy resulted in a June 2000 summit between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il -- an accomplishment for which the South Korean leader won the Nobel Peace Prize. (Gaurav Kampani with Evan Medeiros and Michael Dutra, 2002, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies)

"No Turning Back?"
Comparative Connections is a quarterly journal on East Asian bilateral relations published by Pacific Forum CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies). Their third-quarter 2002 issue includes this report on the status of former Korean President Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy in the light of the events of 2002. (Aidan Foster-Carter, October 2002)

"Sunshine Policy at a Glance"
Did you know that the term "Sunshine Policy" -- former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's historic policy of engagement with the North -- comes from an Aesop fable? In the fable, sunshine triumphs over wind in a test between the two to see who could get a traveler to remove his coat. This article about the Sunshine Policy has been excerpted by the Korean Information Service from "Dynamic Korea," a series published by the South Korean English-language daily Korea Times. The series, on which more than 50 distinguished minds from around the world collaborated, began in May 2002.

"Hope Survives"
This optimistic conclusion comes from the biweekly South Korean magazine Korea Now. The author contends that the Sunshine Policy already has weathered diplomatic and military storms, especially in the aftermath of President Bush's inclusion of North Korea as part of the Axis of Evil. The author also counters arguments that the South has made too many concessions to the North. "If war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, it is certain both sides will perish together," opines former President Kim Dae-jung. (Shin Yong-bae, June 29, 2002)

"'Dialogue' Goes South"
This online op-ed piece from The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page takes a critical look at the Sunshine Policy. Author Karen Elliott House writes: "(Kim Dae-jung's) Sunshine Policy has called for dialogue with and aid to North Korea. It is this bankrupt policy that has brought South Korea to the current brink." (November 13, 2002)

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Media Resources

Korean Central News Agency
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is the only media organization allowed in North Korea. The Web site contains recent news articles in both English and Spanish. Recent headlines include: "U.S. Urged to Apologize and Compensate for Its Piracy of DPRK Ship" and "KCNA Urges U.S. to Drop Its Anachronistic Policy Toward DPRK."

Korea Times
The Korea Times, founded in 1950, is South Korea's oldest English-language daily newspaper. The site features articles on politics, culture, technology and finance.

Korea Now
Korea Now is a biweekly magazine containing features on politics and policy, business and finance, and society and the arts.

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