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This study was undertaken to assess possible futures for the North Korean regime and the Korean peninsula that could affect U.S. and regional interests, and to consider which U.S. and regional strategies and policy actions could both prepare for possible outcomes and shape those outcomes to better serve U.S. interests. -Excerpt of paper introduction

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Since the DPRK famines of the 1990s, rates of tuberculosis (TB), a disease that exploits malnutrition and other conditions that compromise natural immunity, have risen dramatically in North Korea and are now among the highest in the world outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Launched in 2008, a unique collaboration of US-based voluntary interests, including a major medical institution, a humanitarian NGO, and a non-profit sponsor, began working with the civilian DPRK Ministry of Public Health to fight TB, and especially drug-resistant TB, inside North Korea. Since then, the DPRK Tuberculosis Project has achieved critical public health objectives during a period otherwise marked by a profound deterioration of relations between the United States and North Korea.

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The Markets of Pyongyang

Pyongyang has two kinds of markets: “official” markets and “frog” markets (unofficial and unregulated markets in which the traders would jump up like frogs and run off with their wares at the first sign of trouble). However, there is no place for either market in DPRK ideology and their continued existence presents the regime with a political challenge. The frog markets in particular have been seen as acts of mass disobedience and threaten to play an increasing role in the exchange of news and ideas should the regime stumble. KEI is honored to announce the first paper presented in the 2011 Academic Paper Series will be that of former UK Ambassador to the DPRK, H.E. John Everard.

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The global market for clean technology is getting increasingly crowded as many countries like South Korea have been pushing for “green growth” and clean technology development as strategic priorities. Seoul will not only face stiffer market competition, but also may be vulnerable to certain political risks that are already emerging in other countries. 

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Having just successfully concluded the Seoul G-20 summit, Korea finds itself with increased standing within the region. In this new context, National Assemblywoman Na discussed the current challenges Korea faces and the Grand National Party’s vision for Korea’s foreign policy in the future. Among the issues she addressed were the U.S.-ROK alliance, recent developments in North Korea, and the domestic response to the failure to reach a decision on the KORUS FTA during the Seoul G-20 summit.

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Siegfried S. Hecker is a professor (research) in the Department of Management Science and Engineering, a senior fellow at FSI, and co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University. He is also an emeritus director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. His presentation stemed from a visit to North Korea's Light Water Reactor Facility.

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KEI hosted a book launch celebration with Dr. Bruce E. Bechtol, Jr., of Angelo State University. His new book, "Defiant Failed State: The North Korean Threat to International Security," discusses how and why the North Korean military threat has evolved since Kim Jong-il came to power, if nuclear dismantlement is attainable, what will happen when Kim Jong-il dies, and what the U.S. and its ally South Korea may be able to do about any of it. Dr. Bechtol’s extensive military experience gives him a unique perspective to analyze North Korea’s military capabilities, nuclear program, proliferation activities, and leadership succession process. In his book he asks and answers:

Is North Korea capable of surviving indefinitely?

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On November 16, the Korea Economic Institute, the Korea Chair of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS hosted Under Secretary Lael Brainard for an assessment of the economic impacts of the Seoul G-20 summit and President Obama’s trip to Asia. In her remarks, Under Secretary Brainard discussed the progress made at the G-20 on putting global growth on a sounder footing and taking steps to address excessive imbalances in the global economy. She also discussed the importance of exports for creating more balanced growth in the United States and the president’s innovation agenda.

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With North Korea increasingly becoming politically isolated, there are few channels through which the international community can remain engaged. Despite the distaste most have for Pyongyang politics, over twenty-four million people living under Kim Jong Il need assistance from the outside world, while the international community continues to hope to open up the DPRK. If engagement cannot happen through government assistance, trade, or NGO contributions, then how do we remain engaged with North Korea? Foreign investment. 

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While beef and autos have gotten most of the press, the service sector is a key component to the KORUS FTA. In the United States, the services industry accounts for 80 percent of U.S. employment and 75 percent of U.S. economic output. Services often provide the tools that allow the producers of goods to ship their products, ensure on time delivery, insure their products against loss, and market them to consumers at home and abroad. Please join KEI for a discussion of the non-traditional barriers that U.S. service providers face and how the KORUS FTA would help them to better compete in the Korean market.

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