As all of Asia and the "Indo-Pacific" grapple with the challenges of managing China's rise, one country, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), does so from a position of unique strength and weakness. On the one hand, North Korea can boast of being the PRC's sole defense treaty ally as well as brotherly communist party controlled state. The two countries share a long border and China has emerged as North Korea's dominant trade and investment partner. Yet these very features create a strategic trap for Pyongyang, which can easily lose autonomy given its hostile relations with the US and its allies and distant ties to more neutralist nations. While most analysis focuses on Kim Jong Un's nuclear capabilities, this lecture will explore North Korea's thinking about how to deal with its hegemonic patron, and what implications their complex bilateral relationship might have on the round of diplomacy about to commence with the new Joe Biden administration and final year of the Moon Jae-in government.
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