Fletcher in the News

Prof. Lee Weighs in on North Korea's Blockade of the Kaesong Industrial Complex

The New York Times

Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

North Korea Pulls Out of Factories It Runs With South


North Korea said on Monday that it was withdrawing all its 53,000 workers from an industrial park jointly run with South Korea, casting doubt on the future of the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation.

The Kaesong industrial complex, in the North Korean border town of the same name, operated for eight years despite political and military tension, including the North Korean artillery attack on a South Korean island three years ago. North Korea’s decision to withdraw its workers, although it called the move temporary, presented the most serious challenge to its viability.…

… North Korea’s threat this month to close the complex was met with skepticism from some news media analysts who indicated that the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, would not want to risk an important source of hard currency. North Korea was enraged, claiming on Monday that it “gets few economic benefits from the zone while the South side largely benefits from it.”

Mr. Kim “is not accountable to his people, and thereby can afford to raise tension almost indefinitely at a great cost to his own people,” said Lee Sung-yoon, a North Korea specialist at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, recalling that the government did not change its policy even after a famine killed an estimated 10 percent of its population in the mid-1990s.

Read the full report (The New York Times

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