The DPRK, or North Korea, has in the past two decades become a major issue of concern due to its geostrategic importance, its possession of nuclear weapons and the resulting direct and indirect threats for regional security, and due to humanitarian and human rights issues. As of 2021, the country is dealing with a long-term structural crisis of its inefficient state-socialist economy, the mid-term effects of economic sanctions that went from specific to comprehensive, and the short-term effects of the Covid-pandemic and related restrictions. Other state-socialist systems like those of China, Vietnam and the Soviet Union have responded to similar challenges by embarking on a path of reform, with different approaches and results. North Korea, despite having experimented with elements of a more liberal approach since the late 1990s, has so far not announced a deep and broad economic reform program.
This talk will address the question of how to increase the likelihood of a deep and broad economic reform drive in North Korea. Rather than doing so based on an ab-hoc interpretation of isolated events or randomly available data, it will attempt to take a systematic approach. The CRE model helps to break down a very broad question into smaller, more precise tasks. As a result, it will be shown that efforts directed at the elite and the middle class, and aimed at increasing perceived gains from reforms and losses from non-reforms, are the most promising measures. This sheds a new light on various policies applied by the West including economic sanctions and summitry with the top leader, and helps explain the rationale behind current North Korean policies such as inward-orientation and fight against cultural infiltration.
About the Speaker
Ruediger Frank is Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna, where he heads the Department of East Asian Studies. He was born and raised in socialist East Germany and lived for five years in the Soviet Union. He spent one semester as a language student at Kim-Il-Sung University in Pyongyang in 1991/1992. He holds university degrees in Korean Studies, International Relations, and Economics. On the basis of these skills and experiences, he has written extensively on various topics related to North Korea, with a focus on economic development. He has been working in various Korea-related councils of the World Economic Forum 2011-2021 and was named one of the 50 most influential German economists by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in 2012. He tweets as @RFrankVienna.
About the Chair
Skand Ranjan Tayal joined the Indian Foreign Service (1976), and served in Indian Missions in Sofia, Warsaw, Geneva and Moscow. He was India’s Consul General in Johannesburg (1996-98) and Houston (2002-05), and Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan (2005-08). He was Ambassador of India to the Republic of Korea during 2008-11. Ambassador Tayal has wide experience in both bilateral and multilateral diplomacy and has been a frequent speaker on contemporary affairs. He regularly writes for academic journals. He has authored a book ‘India and Republic of Korea: Engaged Democracies’ which was released in December 2013 by the Hon’ble External Affairs Minister of India. Ambassador Tayal is a graduate of Allahabad University and has a postgraduate degree in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Ambassador Tayal is Adjunct Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies.
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