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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, at a musical performance. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center right, and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, center left, at a musical performance in North Korea, June 2, 2019 (Korean Central News Agency photo via AP Images).

Is North Korea’s Regime Really in Peril?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

North Korea has never been an easy country to understand from the outside. But the recent cycle of seemingly contradictory developments in one the world’s most isolated countries appears especially bewildering. Last month, there were reports of a major leadership shakeup in Pyongyang, followed by a startling report in South Korean media that several key North Korean officials who had been in charge of negotiations with the United States had been executed or purged. Within a week, however, several of these officials resurfaced.

These stories are a reminder that all too often, the immediate coverage about the North Korean state is not as it initially appears—especially the most headline-grabbing news about regime turmoil. Why are many of these breathless reports about North Korea so often readily accepted as fact, despite a consistent history of outsiders misunderstanding the country and the nature of its regime? ...

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