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North Korea’s Sharp Power and the Divide Over Korean Identities
Author: Aram Hur
Region: Asia
Location: Korea, North
Published July 29, 2019
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This chapter examines the nature and motivations of North Korea’s sharp power toward South Korea. Unlike China or Russia, to secure long-term survival, North Korea ultimately needs cooperation from the rival democracy it seeks to undermine. I argue that this produces a particular North Korean brand of “Trojan horse” sharp power: the hijacking of South Korea’s value diplomacy apparatus to disseminate a dual narrative. Externally, North Korea aims to project soft power hand in hand with South Korea to the international community, while internally, it exploits South Korea’s nationalist divisions to its desired ends. I illustrate this strategy through in-depth case studies of North Korea’s most significant sharp efforts in 2018. The analysis contests a simplistic understanding of sharp power and shines a different light on the regime’s recent diplomatic efforts.

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