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Despite Efforts to Isolate It, North Korea Is No ‘Hermit Kingdom’

Leon V. Sigal Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Against the backdrop of a threatened new nuclear test, North Korea is doing what it has long done to hedge against political and economic isolation: maintain and expand its network of partners. As it anticipates new international sanctions and a cooling of relations with China, North Korea has just concluded new trade deals with Russia and Uganda and is continuing to boost trade with the rest of the world, despite U.N. sanctions and U.S. efforts to sever its connections to financial institutions around the globe.

Often miscast as a “hermit kingdom,” North Korea has been anything but that when it comes to diplomacy and trade. That has allowed it to endure dramatic changes in international politics, to the astonishment of those who have long expected its collapse. While preaching its gospel of self-reliance, the Kim dynasty has depended on others for its survival without ever quite yielding to their embrace. ...

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