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Flare-up between North and South Korea tests U.S., Chinese power

One of the more interesting revelations contained in this week’s release of secret State Department cables by WikiLeaks, the whistle-blower organization, is the situation in North Korea and its shifting alliances with its longtime ally in China.

In one leaked cable, China reportedly refers to North Korea as a spoiled child. They’ve also signaled that in the event of the regime’s collapse they are willing to consider a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul. For anyone old enough to remember when the U.S. first stationed troops in South Korea, back in 1945, or who may have fought in the three-year war there, this is a fairly stunning piece of news to tease out of these cables.

To get a better sense of the shifting power dynamics of the region, Need to Know’s Jon Meacham spoke with a scholar who has spent time on the ground in North Korea, Charles Armstrong, the Director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University and an Associate Fellow at the Asia Society.