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Engagement on the Margins: Capacity Building in North Korea
Published May 25, 2011
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The year 2008 saw a reversal of a long-lasting policy constellation in the international community visà- vis the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). South Korea, for 10 years a fervent proponent of engagement policy—sometimes in outspoken opposition to the U.S. approach—became much more skeptical about the engagement policy without strings attached that had been practiced by the two preceding governments under presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. This occurred after the overwhelming election victory of the new president, Lee Myung-bak, and after Korea’s conservative forces (the Grand National Party and smaller groups) conformed to this policy. Relations with North Korea, which flatly refused any dialogue over the policy proposals of the Lee administration, consequently soured, resulting in the closure of the two tourism projects in Mt. Kumgang, after the shooting of a South Korean tourist there, and Kaesong and the severe reduction of interaction in the last remaining prestige project of the preceding administrations, the Kaesong industrial complex. These projects were not only the windows of interaction between North and South Korea, but they were at the same time a large-scale experiment for the introduction of new management knowledge and technology to North Korea.

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