Article: The North Korea Conundrum: Pyongyang’s Strategic Calculus and Future Trajectory


Rachel Minyoung Lee unpacks North Korean policy changes and their implications after the failed 2019 US-North Korea summit in Hanoi.

The article analyzes North Korea's intensified military activities, particularly first-time tests of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a nuclear-armed unmanned underwater vehicle, as a reflection of its domestic and foreign policy shift following the failed US-North Korea summit in Hanoi in 2019. This shift towards conservatism has led to a fundamental pivot in North Korea's policy towards the United States, China, and Russia. Domestically, North Korea has reinforced a policy of "self-reliance," with tightened control across all realms, including greater control over foreign trade and reducing dependence on foreign technology. Meanwhile, the country's foreign policy has hardened, exemplified by the resumption of missile launches and a focus on building its defense industry, while relationships with China and Russia have been cultivated. North Korea's changing perception of the global order, particularly the role of the United States, plays a significant role in these developments, potentially impacting future nuclear negotiations and economic reform.

Lee, Rachel Minyoung. "The North Korea Conundrum: Pyongyang’s Strategic Calculus and Future Trajectory". Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (2023).