Thursday, December 24, 2009

Robert Carlin: “North Korea knows more about the outside than we frequently imagine”

Robert Carlin has been following North Korea since 1974 and has made nearly 30 visits there. Currently he is a visiting fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Some excerpts of an interview Carlin did with IPS:

When I said that the North was not "reclusive", I was simply describing what I have seen and learned from years of talking with and observing North Koreans. They know more about the outside than we frequently imagine, and there is a swath of the population that has more interaction with foreigners, foreign goods, or foreign ideas than is commonly understood.

If you look at the documents from the former USSR and Eastern European embassies in Pyongyang, you'll see that the North Koreans were subject to a never-ending barrage of "advice" from their allies, most of whom were quite convinced that the North Korean leadership didn't understand economic matters, had a poor grasp of communist principles, and basically needed the benefit of outside wisdom.

Both the USSR and the Eastern bloc have disappeared while the DPRK is still here.


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