Breakfast Briefing: North Korea – will there be war?


These audio and slides are from the basis of an hour-long briefing on 13 December 2017.

In particular the presentation addressed:

  • Another year, another Korea crisis – but is this one more serious?
  • The reasons behind North Korea’s unfaltering drive for WMD. Can this be curbed?
  • Regime change, Pyongyang: how does Kim Jong-un differ from his father Kim Jong-il? Might events in Zimbabwe worry him?
  • Regime change, Washington: can Trump succeed where his predecessors have failed?
  • Despite North Korea’s economy growing faster than the South’s last year, might they feel the effects of the latest sanctions?
  • Is there a military option? Would Trump really take that risk?
  • Can fresh diplomacy resolve the crisis, and on what basis might dialogue resume?


The following text sets the context in which the briefing was given. 

Tensions still remain dangerous, despite a two-month hiatus in Kim Jong-un’s testing of ever-better ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. President Trump was placid on his Asia trip, but in a fresh war of words North Korea has sentenced him to death. China has made up with Seoul and sent an envoy to Pyongyang, whilst proposing a dual freeze of DPRK WMD tests and US-ROK war games. South Korea, whose liberal President Moon Jae-in seeks to engage with the North, hopes Trump’s visit showed him how catastrophic any new war would be. Yet in 2018 (if not sooner) Kim will provoke again. Washington needs a policy, not posturing. Which way will Trump jump?


Aidan Foster-Carter – is Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology and Modern Korea at Leeds University. His interest in North Korea dates back to 1968. Since 1997 he has been a full-time analyst and consultant on Korea: writing, lecturing and broadcasting on political, economic and security issues in both Koreas for academic, business and policy audiences in the UK and worldwide.

Richard Lloyd has worked with China Policy for over two years, covering technology, industry and foreign policy. Richard graduated with a First class honours degree from the University of Oxford in Chinese Studies. He travelled to North Korea from Beijing in December 2015, and pays close attention to developments in China-North Korea relations.


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