Two New Websites on North Korea

Reviewed by Andrew J. Nathan

In This Review

North Korea: Witness to Transformation (
by Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard
Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2013
0 pp. $0.00

38 North (

by U.S.-Korea Institute

These websites offer unique insight into the North Korean enigma. Curated by the veteran diplomat and analyst Joel Wit and the North Korea scholar Jenny Town, 38 North posts vigorous short essays by accomplished North Korea watchers on the regime’s internal political struggles, foreign policies, and weapons activities and the daily lives of the North Korean people. Contributors ponder strains in Beijing’s relations with Pyongyang and offer suggestions for U.S. policy. The site also reviews books and debunks media myths. A special feature is a running analysis of commercial satellite imagery that often scoops the international news media with information about the status of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

On the site Witness to Transformation, the economist Noland and the political economist Haggard update their important published research with postings on social and economic conditions in North Korea, food security, political events, Chinese and South Korean enterprises operating in the North, and the state of women’s rights in the country. Some posts are grouped in separate categories labeled “Satire” and “Not Satire,” which help tell fact from fiction when it comes to topics such as North Korean comic books, the former basketball star Dennis Rodman’s odd friendship with Kim Jong Un, and the Kim family’s personality cult.

Both sites are updated almost daily and allow users to subscribe to e-mail newsletters that carry links to new posts. Over the several years that both sites have been running, the news from North Korea has only gotten worse. Regular readers will be in a good position to understand whatever happens next.