Modern Korean History

Event Recap: Chinese Expansion and the South China Sea: Beijing’s Strategic Ambition and the Asian Order

China’s ambitions to become Asia’s undisputed regional hegemon is evident in the South China Sea, as Beijing creates military bases along remote reefs and islands in a 1.5-million-square mile expanse. Humphrey Hawksley, the author of Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the South China Sea and Strategy of Chinese Expansion, Los Angeles Times Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Bob Drogin, and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia James Clad, spoke at the Wilson Center to discuss the rivalry between China and the United States, and the dilemma facing countries in the region.

Missing—but not forgotten: What the return of Korean War remains means for the daughter of one American soldier

Donna Knox never met her father. She was born two months after he disappeared in North Korea in 1952 at age 26, a star collegiate hockey player for the University of Michigan who was the father of a young son and a daughter on the way.

Still, he loomed large in their lives as his wife and children waited for word on his whereabouts.

2018 Korea Foundation Junior Scholars’ Final Presentations


In this photo, Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, gives opening remarks for the 2018 Korea Foundation Junior Scholars’ Final Presentations at the Wilson Center. From L-R: Abraham Denmark, Jean Lee, Bo Kyung Kim, Minjeong Ko, Suna Jeong, Taekyoon Kim, Christian Ostermann, Gregg Brazinsky. (Photo credit: Sally Chung)

Next Steps with Pyongyang

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest trip to Pyongyang was a collision between the exaggerated claims made by President Trump following his summit meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong-un and the realities of diplomacy with North Korea.

Forget Defining Denuclearization: South Koreans are Pushing ahead with Reconciliation

In the month since the Singapore summit where U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made history with a handshake, much of the focus in Washington  remains fixed on the question, and definition, of the leaders’ pledge to carry out “the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Trump’s team is calling for the unilateral denuclearization of North Korea, while Kim’s negotiators insist that both sides must destroy their nuclear capabilities, not just North Korea.

21 Newly Translated Soviet Documents on North Korea, 1968-1969

The North Korea International Documentation Project (NKIDP), a part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program, has just published translations of 21 documents from the archives of the former Soviet Union. The records, which come from the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History (RGANI), deal with a number of subjects, including North Korean decision-making during the USS Pueblo and EC-121 crises, North Korea-China relations during the Sino-Soviet split and China's Cultural Revolution, the Kim Il Sung cult, and economic conditions inside of the DPRK.

New Year, New Strategy: Shifting Policies on North Korea in 2018

After more than a year of escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear provocations and a war of words with President Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un began 2018 with a new approach: diplomatic outreach.

A season of North Korea summits began with Kim’s surprise trip to Beijing to meet China’s Xi Jinping before an April summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and an anticipated summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, scheduled to take place in Singapore on June 12.

Singapore Center Stage

There was something inevitable about the choice of Singapore as a venue for the U.S.-North Korean Summit. Still, it was not a given. The Chinese wanted the event in China. Both Koreas reportedly wanted to revisit the Kim-Moon Summit venue at the DMZ. President Trump was enamored with the show biz potential of the DMZ but was finally persuaded that he should not be seen as visiting Kim on his turf. Another potential venue, Ulan Bator in Mongolia, was too far from the center ring of international media attention.

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