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The North Korean Economy and U.S. Policy: Stability Under “Maximum Pressure”
Region: Asia
Theme: Economics
Location: Korea, North
Published July 29, 2019
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North Korea has been under international sanctions for several years. It is only under U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure,” however, that China, North Korea’s most important trade partner, has begun enforcing these sanctions in a serious manner. Based on quantitative and qualitative data about North Korea’s economy, this chapter shows that while the country has not been threatened by economic disaster or social collapse as a result of the sanctions, its economic situation under sanctions has been dire, particularly for those industries targeted by sanctions. Kim Jong-un claimed in mid- April 2019 that his country is unphased by sanctions, but the data tells a different story. The regime may come to be threatened by socio-political instability should foreign currency reserves dry up, but the U.S. may not be successful in maintaining the sanctions regime at its current strength for all that much longer.

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