North Korea: Hungry for change
Two years after his accession to power, Kim Jong Un continues to pursue hiscountry’s foreign policy with the familiar pattern of bellicose rhetoric, cut with the occasional conciliatory gestures. More substantial changes can be seen in the way power is exercised within the top leadership. The country is nowincreasingly run by a circle of ‘family and friends’ within a revived Party structure. There are also signs of emerging economic pragmatism, a decrease in the influence of the military within the Central Committee and a revival of the stalled 2002 economic reforms. However, the continued development of NorthKorea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes ensures that security issues continue to dominate the country’s relations with its Northeast Asian neighboursand the United States.
This leaves substantial scope for the greater involvement of the European Union (EU). Geographically distant, with no direct security interests and perceived as more independent by Pyongyang, the EU is well placed to engage in a dialogue with the regime when other international actors cannot. As the North Korean leadership begins to slowly reform the economy and attempts to diversify its sources of trade, the EU could use its humanitarian and development assistance in a more strategic way, using it to encourage continued economic reform and (limited) dialogue on human rights. Such a policy would represent a ‘carrot’ that can run parallel to the ‘stick’ of international condemnation and sanctions thatwill continue to be implemented through the UN and by regional powers.
This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.