Changing North Korea

An Information Campaign Can Beat the Regime

U.S. journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling embrace their families after being freed from months of detention in North Korea, Los Angeles, United States, August 5, 2009. Danny Moloshok / Reuters

North Korea, a small country with no economic potential to speak of, has for two decades been a major irritant to the international community. Its nuclear weapons program puts the international nonproliferation regime at risk and threatens to provide assorted rogue states and terrorist groups with the nuclear technology they have long sought. In April, Pyongyang conducted a missile test, and a nuclear test followed in May. In July, however, Kim Jong Il signaled a readiness to talk by inviting former U.S. President Bill Clinton to visit Pyongyang and retrieve two American journalists detained in North Korea since March. Still, this dramatic event was no indication that North Korea is planning to give up its nuclear program.

In considering the North Korean nuclear question, U.S. policymakers and experts typically fall into two camps. The optimists believe that negotiating with Pyongyang will set North Korea on the path of

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