North Korea Showdown

May 19, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 19
Can a military confrontation be averted?
By David Hosansky



Demick, Barbara , Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea , Spiegel & Grau, 2009. A journalist formerly based in South Korea examines the lives of six “ordinary” North Koreans, based on their reports after defecting to the South.

Lankov, Andrei , The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia , Oxford University Press, 2014. A native of the Soviet Union who has studied North Korea since visiting as an exchange student in the 1980s looks at how its leaders have sustained the regime with limited resources and amid international hostility.

Lee, Hyeonseo , The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story , William Collins, 2015. This international bestseller tells of Lee's escape from North Korea at age 17, her subsequent struggles in China and her daring trip back to North Korea to bring her mother and brother to South Korea.

Oberdorfer, Don, and Robert Carlin , The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History , Basic Books, 2013. Two Korea experts examine the ongoing conflicts between South and North and show how the once unified nations might achieve reconciliation.


Birrell, Ian , “‘How could our country lie so completely to us?’: meet the North Korean defectors,” The Guardian, Aug. 27, 2016, The author interviews defectors in South Korea to learn about their life in the North, their escapes and their struggles to adapt to new lives.

Bowden, Mark , “Understanding Kim Jong Un, the world's most enigmatic and unpredictable dictator,” Vanity Fair, Feb. 12, 2015, Journalist Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down, portrays the North Korean leader as clever, ruthless, impetuous and very much in charge.

Crowley, Michael , “North Korea defies Trump,” Politico, April 28, 2017, A senior correspondent analyzes Pyongyang's responses to the Trump administration's declarations and how President Trump's policies may ultimately resemble those of the previous administration.

Donnelly, John M. , “Analysis: U.S. Military Options in North Korea — From Bad to Worse,” Roll Call, April 25, 2017, This in-depth look at North Korea's military capabilities underscores the challenges the United States would face in a preemptive strike.

Hunt, Katie, K.J. Kwon and Jason Hanna , “North Korea claims successful test of nuclear warhead,” CNN, Sept. 10, 2016, The authors cover North Korea's fifth and most powerful nuclear bomb test and provide context on Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Lee, Jenny , “Sanctions Against North Korea: How Strong Should They Be?” Voice of America, Feb. 9, 2017, Several Korean experts analyze how sanctions can be toughened or better enforced to get Pyongyang to stop its nuclear program.

Snyder, Scott , “How North Korea evades UN sanctions through international ‘front’ companies,” Forbes, March 3, 2017, An expert at the Council on Foreign Relations examines North Korean strategies to evade international sanctions.

Reports and Studies

“Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,” U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Feb. 17, 2014, A special U.N. commission says North Korea uses murder, torture, starvation, sexual violence and other tactics to maintain political control.

Chanlett-Avery, Emma, Ian E. Rinehart and Mary Beth D. Nikitin , “North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation,” Congressional Research Service, Jan. 15, 2016, Congress' bipartisan research arm discusses Pyongyang's nuclear program, economy and human rights record, as well as past U.S. negotiations and the role of China.

Klingner, Bruce , “Sisyphean Diplomacy: The Dangers of Premature Negotiations with North Korea,” Heritage Foundation, March 21, 2017, A former CIA analyst and now a senior fellow at the conservative think tank examines the crisis with North Korea and says rather than trying to restart failed negotiations the United States should try using tougher sanctions to pressure Pyongyang.

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Document APA Citation — See Alternate Citation Style
Hosansky, D. (2017, May 19). North Korea showdown. CQ researcher, 27, 433-456. Retrieved from
Document ID: cqresrre2017051909
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ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 19, 2017  North Korea Showdown
Jul. 05, 2011  North Korean Menace
Apr. 11, 2003  North Korean Crisis
May 19, 2000  Future of Korea
Aug. 12, 1977  Relations with South Korea
Apr. 24, 1968  Divided Korea
Jan. 27, 1960  Korea: Problem Protectorate
Aug. 24, 1951  Rehabilitation of Korea
Nov. 01, 1945  Freedom for Korea
Alliances and Security Agreements
Arms Control and Disarmament
Conflicts in Asia
Diplomacy and Diplomats
Export Sanctions and Restrictions
Party Politics
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
U.S. at War: Korea
War and Conflict
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