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North Korea research broadens knowledge base

July 31, 2020

young-ben.jpgDr. Benjamin Young, assistant professor of Cyber Leadership and Intelligence (CLI), continues to share his research about North Korea with the world.

Young’s ongoing research has yielded two recent paper publications and a book to be published in the spring of 2021.

One recent article, “Before ‘Fire and Fury; The Role of Anger and Fear in U.S.-North Korea Relations, 1968-1994,” published in “The Korean Journal of Defense,” focuses on the role of emotions in international relations.

In the past, the North Korean government has threatened the U.S. with nuclear destruction, while the U.S. has made equally emotional threats, such as the one by President Trump in 2017 to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea, Young explained.

“I wanted to look at the history of U.S.-North Korea relations from the angle of emotions, specifically anger and fear,” he said. “It’s my argument that if the U.S. and North Korea want to have a more sustainable, diplomatic relationship they need to address this long-standing war of emotions.”

In his second article, “When the Lights Went Out: Electricity in North Korea and Dependency on Moscow,” published in the “International Journal of Korean Unification Studies,” Young examines the role of electrical energy in North Korea’s development.

In talking about the lack of North Korean electricity, Young has found that there has been little in-depth research into the history of North Korea’s energy sector and the important role played by the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation.

“Despite North Korea’s promotion of national self-reliance, the country has been very dependent on Moscow for electricity assistance,” he explained.

Young received a book completion grant from the Academy of Korean Studies as he finishes writing his Stanford University Press book, “Guns, Guerillas, and the Great Leader: North Korea and the Third World.” The book is to be published in the spring of 2021.

“It addresses the often overlooked perspectives that developing countries and anti-colonial peoples have of North Korea,” Young said. “For many in the Third World, North Korea has been historically seen as a model of postcolonial development and anti-imperialism.”

For example, during the Cold War era, North Korea offered financial aid and military assistance to many newly independent countries and national liberation movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

“What I hope people take away from my research is that North Korea is a deeply complex country that is not crazy or irrational,” Young said. “We need to challenge our own stereotypes of North Korea.”

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