Friday, December 12, 2014

What sites to use to watch North Korea

What sites to use to watch North Korea



By David Maxwell, Best Defense guest columnist
Tom Ricks asked me to provide ten blogs/resources that Korean experts use to keep up on north Korea. By providing the links and references I use I am not implying that I am a north Korean expert, as there are no real experts on north Korea. We can only at best be students of north Korea, trying to understand the most opaque, tyrannical, and horrific regime arguably in the existence of the nation-state. In no particular order, here are some of the websites and resources that I use to try to better understand the situation and keep up with current events.
  1. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA): This is the official north Korean news agency and provides stories and news reports about north Korea written by trusted members of the regime. Although many will discount the bombastic rhetoric and blatant falsehoods, careful reading and study provides insights into how the regime responds to and thinks about events that concern the Kim Family Regime. And the bombastic rhetoric can be entertaining.
  1. The Daily North Korean (DailyNK): Published in South Korea by north Korean defectors. This site can be criticized by those who accuse north Korea defectors of having an agenda (they do, of course), but the site has many connections to people inside north Korea, and the experiences of defectors provide insights that cannot be found elsewhere, at least in reports provided on a daily basis. If you happen to be interested in unconventional warfare planning in north Korea, I recommend following this website. Of course, the information coming out of north Korea through this and every source should be treated with some skepticism until it can be vetted.
  1. U.S. Korea Institute at SAIS (38North): As stated on its website, it provides informed analysis of events in and around the DPRK. In addition to informed and quite good analysis, the site provides a lot of imagery of north Korea, often with analysis by Curtis Melvin, who in my opinion is the best imagery analyst never to have been trained by the US government intelligence community. He is masterful at interpreting imagery from open sources. You can also see his work and analysis at his blog, North Korean Economy Watch.
  1. Yonhap News is the semi-official South Korean news service. It provides timely new on events in both north and South Korea. Sometimes its articles require subscription access, but they can also be accessed through other sites such as Global PostThe Korean Herald, or The Korea Times.
  1. NDU North Korean Site (North Korean MIPAL): Although not a blog, this is a very useful archive of a very large amount official and unofficial documents concerning policy, strategy and the full range of scholarly work as well as key news articles on north Korea.
  1. NightWatch: John McCreary produces a daily overnight global intelligence summary assessing key events during the work week. Although Korea is not always covered, it often is, because John McCreary is a retired Asia and Korean analyst from the US intelligence community, so his expert Korea analysis is very useful. You can also subscribe to his email service.
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