Charles K. Armstrong: How North Korea Manages to Maneuver between Much More Powerful Countries, Appearing to Defy International Norms

Date(s) - July 22, 2016
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

On 2016-07-22, at an event Sponsored by the Beijing alumni clubs of Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and Yale University, Professor Charles Armstrong spoke about how North Korea manages to maneuver between much more powerful countries, appearing to defy international norms.  The talk was held at the University of Chicago Center in Beijing.


Charles K. Armstrong is The Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences in the Department of History at Columbia University. A renowned expert on contemporary Korea, especially North Korea, Professor Armstrong is the author, editor, or co-editor of five books, including most recently Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950 – 1992 (2013) and The Koreas (2nd ed., 2014). He holds a B.A. in Chinese Studies from Yale University, an M.A. in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in History from the University  of Chicago.

Since Kim Jong Un assumed power in 2011, North Korea has insisted that it reserves the right to defend itself with nuclear weapons and has continued to develop and test nuclear devices and missiles despite international opprobrium and UN sanctions. What explains North Korea’s survival and ability to defy international norms, despite its isolation and economic weakness? This talk explores North Korea’s long history of maneuvering between much more powerful countries to its own advantage, from the period of Soviet-Chinese rivalry during the Cold War to Pyongyang’s current position between its archenemy America and ostensible ally China, and discusses possible paths toward resolving the North Korean nuclear dilemma.


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