North Korea’s Economic Reforms Constrained by Geopolitical Isolation

North Korea’s Economic Reforms Constrained by Geopolitical Isolation
Thousands of North Koreans gather at the Kim Il Sung Square to rally in support of their leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s address, Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

The launch of five short-range missiles from North Korea’s east coast earlier this month threw icy water on some recent and uncharacteristically positive media coverage of Kim Jong Un’s regime. Reports of tentative discussions with U.S. officials about the possibility of jumpstarting nuclear talks, combined with the supposed mid-2015 rollout of additional Chinese-style economic reforms contained in the so-called May 30th Measures announced last year, suggested that significant shifts could be in the cards in Pyongyang. But the missile launch highlights the ways in which North Korea’s room for maneuver, especially on the economic front, will continue to be constrained […]

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