President Personally Welcomes American Citizen Detainees from North Korea: New Procedure with Risks

Analysis, Foreign Affairs
, by The recent return of three detainees from North Korea and the way in which they were welcomed back from Pyongyang, has a number of unique features that suggest significant changes by the Trump Administration from procedures that have been followed by previous administration over the previous decade. Releasing American citizens, who were detained for spurious reasons in the first place, might better be handled with less fanfare to discourage attempts to exploit future incidents.

Pyongyang Gas Stations and Fluctuating Fuel Prices

Economics, Foreign Affairs, Infrastructure & Energy
, by and In July and September 2017, unconfirmed reports circulated about dramatically fluctuating gasoline and diesel prices in North Korea. There were also reports that China was planning to suspend or limit fuel exports to North Korea. Analysis of satellite imagery from around this period indicates that a fuel suspension of any significant length does not appear to have affected Pyongyang.

Unification Transparency Index: Allied Views of China and Japan

Analysis, Economics, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, Infrastructure & Energy, Legal, Military, Nuclear Weapons, Refugees & Migration
, by South Korea and the United States generally share similar estimations of China’s and Japan’s blind spots in a unification scenario. Both believe that Beijing has the most prominent blind spot on domestic stabilization and refugees, and that Japan shares similar concerns, suggesting that all four powers could prioritize law and order in a unification scenario.

Comparing South Korea and U.S. Perceptions of Korean Unification

Analysis, Economics, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, Infrastructure & Energy, Legal, Military, Nuclear Weapons, Refugees & Migration
, by Beyond Parallel’s first-ever survey of expert assessments on unification-related issues indicate South Korea and the United States share the common view that domestic stabilization and unification costs constitute the most critical unification blind spots with a high degree of concern but low levels of knowledge for both countries.

Unification Transparency Index: South Korea

Analysis, Economics, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, Infrastructure & Energy, Legal, Military, Nuclear Weapons, Refugees & Migration
, by Domestic stabilization is the most critical issue with unification for South Korean officials and experts, registering the highest composite score (i.e., high level of concern and low level of knowledge). This means civil-military relations, law and order, and stability in the North represent the issues for which Koreans see great consequences for national interests, but for which they have little prior knowledge or understanding. Hence, it is the greatest potential “blind spot” of unification. Costs related to unification rank a close second for South Koreans, followed by refugees, nuclear weapons, and human rights.