Fletcher in the News

Prof. Lee on the Simmering Crisis in the Korean Peninsula


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 Puts Two Missiles Loaded on Launches on Its East Coast

WHITFIELD (voice-over): North Korea may already have two missiles loaded on launchers on its East Coast, and now it's warning all foreign diplomats it can't protect them if conflict erupts. We'll go to South Korea for reaction to the latest threats in a moment. …

… And we're also joined by Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor at Tufts University. Professor, good to see you as well. So Professor Lee, you first. You know, you wrote an opinion piece for CNN, saying North Korea is not suicidal. You say the goal is not to start a war. So what do you suppose their goal is?

SUNG-YOON LEE, THE FLETCHER SCHOOL, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: In every discussion of North Korea, you have to consider the basic internal dynamic in the Korean Peninsula. You have a two-state formulation, a fancy of way of saying two states, two Korean states that are vying for competing against each other for pan-Korean legitimacy.

North Korea faces an existential threat in the sheer existence of South Korea, a far more attractive, successful, freer, richer country to which a lot of your own people have already and want to continue to go over.

So North Korea basically gets by on blackmail, extortion and the sales of illicit activities. If North Korea were not able to retain that capability to be a political factor in international politics by causing problems for the world's greatest powers, why would they go on giving to North Korea?

And as a corollary, why would North Korea give that capability up, primarily achieved by the relentless pursuit of nuclear long-range missile capabilities?

Read the full transcript (CNN

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