Professor Smith has researched, published and broadcast on East Asian security and North Korea for 30 years. Professor Smith lived and worked for United Nations humanitarian organisations in the DPRK, from where she earned a (still valid) North Korean driving license. Professor Smith received her PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and has held fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the East-West Center, Kyushu University, the United States Institute of Peace, and Stanford University. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on the Korean peninsula; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts since 1996; member of the Council of the British Association of Korean Studies; and an appointed UN ‘global expert’ on Korea. Professor Smith advises government agencies, IOs and NGOs worldwide and is a frequent broadcaster for global media on North Korea and East Asian security.

Project Summary

Why is it that successive post-Cold War North Korean governments could not achieve the core goal of regime security; having to make do with the minimalist outcome of regime survival? My central thesis is that regime survival can be understood as the staving off of potential military intervention from abroad. The challenge to regime security, however, came from the threat of domestic instability generated from the market-oriented, individualist rationalities that undermined the legitimacy and effectiveness of communitarian social and institutional norms and practices that had previously given political elites hegemonic control over the state and all associational life, including the family. The policy significance of the research is to demonstrate, perhaps counter-intuitively, that post-Cold War DPRK governments have weak control and implementation capacities; already we see the rise of unregulated market dynamics and a potential risk of nuclear proliferation from profit-seeking actors.

Major Publications

North Korea: Markets and Military Rule (Cambridge University Press, 2015; translated into Korean Changbi Press, 2017);
Hungry for Peace: International Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Social Change in the DPRK (Washington D.C: USIP press, 2005)
Reconstituting Korean Security (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2007)

Previous Terms

September 5th, 2012 - May 4th, 2013