Book Reviews

Book review: “Europe – North Korea. Between Humanitarianism And Business?”

Book review of "Europe – North Korea. Between Humanitarianism And Business?", written by Myung-Kyu Park, Bernhard Seliger, Sung-Jo Park (Eds.) and published by Lit Verlag in 2010.

Instytut Boyma 07.09.2018

The book Europe-North Korea. Between Humanitarianism and Business?, edited by Myung-Kyu Park, Bernhard Seliger and Sung Jo Park and published by Lit Verlag, was published in 2010. It is a series of articles by exceptional scholars concerning the current situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and its relations with the European Union. The findings of the study are based on extensive research carried out by numerous researchers who have prominent experience in the field on North Korean science. The book is a compilation of various articles. The expertise of the contributors is beyond doubt, and so it is no surprise that the quality of the individual articles is usually very high. Many of them are regular visitors to North Korea, and therefore some of their remarks are based upon constructive first-hand testimonies.

The book is composed of an introduction and of four sections, wherein the authors explore different aspects of the cooperation between North Korea and the European Union. The book presents the current situation of international relations between North Korea and the European Union. The authors intend to present the current situation inside North Korea, as well as the role of the European Union in the development of the Pyongyang regime .

The first part, entitled ‘Human Rights, Humanitarianism’, presents a short overview of the question of human rights in North Korea and the role of European organizations in North Korea. Human Rights are one of the most important political expressions of our century. Thanks to an excellent interdisciplinary approach, Myung-Kyu Park, Peter M. Beck, Nicolas Reader, Sung-Jo Park and Dae-Soon Kim show that during recent years, European humanitarian organizations have played a leading role in North Korea. These organizations are also very active in the field of economical training for the North Korean population. The authors report that there is a transition from humanitarian to development assistance in North Korea. Since the food shortage in North Korea is systematic, international aid is necessary. The authors also mention that NGOs should participate in the construction of a self-reliant North Korea, in order to limit the role of these organizations in the long term. Based upon North Korean testimonies, Humanitarian organizations should cooperate with North Korean institutions.

In the section entitled ‘Economic, Political and Ideological Relations between East/West Germany and North Korea and their legacies’, there is a presentation of the prospects and limits of cooperation between Germany and North Korea. the authors Kolja Naumann, Bernd Schaefer and Soon Hyung Yi discuss the evolution of the German economic system and its consequences for cooperation with North Korea. They are especially interested in the question of integrating new German technologies into the North Korean market. The authors are also in favor of promoting cultural and educational diplomacy between Germany and North Korea. They insist that North Korea’s future elites should be educated in countries (such as Germany) which have historical links to North Korea.

The third part deals with some institutional problems which North Korea is facing. The first two articles, ‘Capacity Building for Economic Change in North Korea: The Experience of the Hanns Seidel Foundation’, prepared by Bernhard Seliger, and ‘Specific Structural Features and Future Development Perspectives of the South Korean Gangwon Province’, written by Peter Jurczeka, concern direct contacts between North and South Korea. According to both authors , the complicated relations with North Korea are influencing the development of the province of Gangwon. The authors emphasize that the economy of North Korea is more liberal than in the past. The next articles, ‘Building Up North Korean Foreign Trade Institutions from the Scratch: Lessons from New EU States and ‘The Role of Capacity Building’, prepared by Ralph Wrobel, and ‘Creating a Good Bank for North Korea (and a Bad Bank Within It) – Creative Capacity-Building as a Domain for Asian-European Cooperation’, also prepared by Bernhard Seliger, focus on the financial and commercial institutions of North Korea. In these papers, forecasts concerning the banking system of North Korea are presented. The barriers and limits of the development of the North Korean financial system are also analyzed. The authors stress that sanctions against North Korea are limiting cooperation as well as the development of the banking system in North Korea. For example, we learn that it is impossible to write letters to financial institutions in North Korea.

The fourth part of the book is entitled ‘Investments, Business and Business Schools’. The key aspects of the North Korean economy are presented here (especially the raw materials and tourism sectors). Furthermore, some economical and business North Korean schools are described as being attached to the Korean Workers’ Party and to the North Korean Army. These North Korean educational institutions are especially ?prominent in regions where foreign direct investment (FDI) is important. These business institutions (such as the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology [PUST]) were founded in cooperation with foreign entities. The lecturers are not only from North Korea but also from abroad (South Korea, the United Kingdom, etc.). The Rajin Business University (RBU) is also an important entity. Less famous than the PUST, the RBU especially is  educating the future leaders of North Korea’s Special Economical Zones which are attracting FDI. The scholars who prepared this part of the book claim in a concise paper that the future leadership of North Korea will not be attached to the previously mentioned political structures. Nevertheless, in my opinion this seems to be rather unlikely, at least in the short term. The articles included in this book provide an interesting and valuable snapshot of a period when only a few experts realized that North Korea was indeed reforming itself. The editors were able to recruit a number of relevant political figures to contribute the volume. Their contributions are not primarily of empirical or analytical value, but most importantly reflect the perception of North Korea by the decision-making elite in Europe. It should be mentioned that the above-average price of the book has to be lamented, particularly from the perspective of young scholars. It should be also added that the viewpoint of a North Korean author would also be valuable, but this is missing from this series of articles.

This volume is certainly not the last word on North Korea in the world economy. The book definitely has to be recommended, in particular for those who already possess a basic knowledge of North Korean affairs (especially on the North Korean economy). For students who are focused on North Korea, it is a valuable and rich source of readings on important issues such as relations between North Korea and Europe. Therefore, I would like to recommend this book as one of the best ways to understand the relations between Europe and North Korea. Nevertheless, on one point I would still caution the reader. The North Korean regime still follows totalitarian policies, and the apparatus of terror is still existing in North Korea. The regime still preaches the virtues of the Kims’ system. In order to supplement their information, readers should also have a global view of North Korean society, and so I would like to invite them to read Evadés de Corée Du Nord, a constructive book about North Korean society prepared by Juliette Morillot and Dorian Malovic, two French journalists who also visited North Korea often.

Myung-Kyu Park, Bernhard Seliger, Sung-Jo Park (Eds.). Europe – North Korea. Between Humanitarianism And Business?, Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2010, 327 pp.

Nicolas Levi

Analyst on North and South Korea. He is an assistant professor at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Author of 7 books, more than 20 academic articles, and over 50 analytical reports on the Korean Peninsula, Poland, and related issues. He conducts lectures at top universities in Poland and abroad.

czytaj więcej

Online Course: “Educational tools for addressing the effects of war”

The Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace is offering “Betzavta” facilitators, middle school and high school educators, social activists, communal activists and those assisting refugees an online seminar to explore educational issues related to wartime.

The North Korean nuclear dismantlement and the management of its nuclear wastes

Evidence suggests that North Korea stores its high-level nuclear waste (HLW) in liquid form in tanks on the same site where it is made, and has not invested in infrastructure to reduce, dentrify, or vitrify this waste. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, one of many aspects of the North Korean nuclear waste problem.

Online Course: “Conflict Resolution and Democracy”

The course will be taught via interactive workshops, employing the Adam Institute’s signature “Betzavta – the Adam Institute’s Facilitation Method“, taught by its creator, Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman. The award-winning “Betzavta” method is rooted in an empirical approach to civic education, interpersonal communication and conflict resolution.

The dying Mekong and political impasse – an environmental disaster with hydropolitics in the background

The countries of the Indochinese Peninsula are struggling with the problem of the deteriorating state of the Mekong River, which scientists and publicists are increasingly boldly describing as an ecological disaster. Alongside climate change, existing hydropower plants and those under construction in China and Laos are among the greatest threats. These ventures deepen the regional dispute over a river crucial to communities of tens of millions of people.

Patrycja Pendrakowska as a founding member of the WICCI’s India-EU Business Council

By sharing knowledge, business opportunities, and best practices the Council generates awareness of women's contributions in developing the India-EU relations.

Are “Climate Refugees” (Just) About Climate?

As the awareness of the scale and pervasiveness of climate impacts on human societies keeps rising, so does the frequency with which the terms “climate refugees” and “climate migrants” are being used in the public discourse “to describe those who are being displaced due to adverse consequences related to climate change” (Atapattu, 2020).

Drug and Road Initiative, that is the Silk Road of drug

This paper deals with the issue of drug business in post-Soviet Central Asia, a region that plays a key role in the trafficking of banned substances from Asia (mainly Afghanistan) to Europe. The study briefly presents the areas that make up the picture of drug business in Central Asia, paying attention to production and distribution.

From ‘strategic engagement’ to ‘competition’. Interview with William Yu

Ewelina Horoszkiewicz in conversation with Professor William Yu (UCLA) on USA, China and Europe. Professor William Yu  is an economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast and specializes in the economies of Los Angeles and China.

Asia-Integration – Follow-up Report on Polish Policy Challenges Towards Asian Countries

The debate was the consequence of positive reactions to the open letter that the Boym Institute published in the summer of 2020. Many of its readers pointed out the necessity of broad consultations regarding the principles of the new multidimensional policy in order to reflect the diversity of perspectives, interests and conditions.

Women’s change in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has embarked on a path of reform. Almost daily, the media there report on new initiatives and projects. It is no coincidence that in December 2019 The Economist awarded Uzbekistan the country of the year title.

Liquidation of the Polish colony in Manchuria (north-eastern China)

Ms. Łucja Drabczak - A Polish woman born in Harbin, she spent her childhood in China. She returned to Poland at the age of 10. She is the author of the book 'China... Memories from my childhood'. She contacted us to convey special family memories related to leaving Manchuria in 1949.

Adam Institute for Democracy & Peace – Crowdfunding Campaign December 2020

Democracy in Israel is in crisis. And if we don't educate for democracy, it just won't exist. It's that simple. The actual teaching of democracy, on the other hand, isn't so simple. It requires experience, theoretical and practical knowledge and the flexibility to adapt to our ever-changing reality.

Patrycja Pendrakowska for Observer Research Foundation: “Guiding democracy through Covid19: Poland shows us what not to do”

We would like to inform, that Observer Research Foundation has published article of Patrycja Pendrakowska - the Boym Institute Analyst and President of the Board.

“Green growth” may well be more of the same

Witnessing the recent flurry of political activity amid the accelerating environmental emergency, from the Green New Deal to the UN climate summits to European political initiatives, one could be forgiven for thinking that things are finally moving forward.

Book review: “Korean Diaspora in Postwar Japan – Geopolitics, Identity and Nation-Building”

Book review of "Korean Diaspora in Postwar Japan -  Geopolitics, Identity and Nation-Building", written by Kim Myung-ja and published by I.B Tauris in 2017.

What connects shamans and generals? On the problem of verification of internal conflicts of North Korea

The number of confirmed executions and frequent disappearances of politicians remind us that in North Korea the rules of social Darwinism apply. Any attempt to limit Kim Jong-un's power may be considered hostile and ruthless.

Not only tests and masks: the history of Polish-Vietnamese mutual helpfulness

On the initiative of the Vietnamese community in Poland and Vietnamese graduates of Polish universities, our country received support from Vietnam - a country that deals with the threat posed by Sars-Cov-2 very effectively.

Why is stronger foreign investment protection needed in relations with China?

One of the key elements of the protection of foreign investment (and thus the foreign investor) is the mechanism for resolving disputes between the state and the foreign investor. The mechanism itself may take different forms...

Krzysztof Zalewski for Observer Research Foundation – “Luxembourg faces the same dilemma as the EU: become a bridge or a fortress”

We would like to inform, that Observer Research Foundation has published article of Krzysztof Zalewski - the Boym Institute Analyst, Chairman of the Board and Editor of the “Tydzień w Azji” weekly.

Book review: “Unveiling the North Korean economy”

Book review of "Unveiling the North Korean economy", written by Kim Byung-yeon and published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.B. Tauris in 2017.

The strategic imperatives driving ASEAN-EU free trade talks: colliding values as an obstacle

Recently revived talks aimed at the conclusion of an inter-regional free trade agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) are driven by strategic imperatives of both regions.

Online Course: “Feminism and Democracy: a Deep Dive”

The course will be taught via interactive workshops, employing the Adam Institute’s signature “Betzavta – the Adam Institute’s Facilitation Method“, taught by its creator, Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman. The award-winning “Betzavta” method is rooted in an empirical approach to civic education, interpersonal communication and conflict resolution.

China’s Social Credit System – How will it affect Polish enterprises in China?

The Social Credit System currently being rolled out in China may pose significant organisational and legal challenges for both foreign and Polish entities operating in China. We invite you to read our report, prepared in cooperation between the Boym Institute and Kochanski & Partners.

Polish-Asian Cooperation in the Field of New Technologies – Report

Polish and Polish-founded companies are already on the largest continent in sectors such as: IT, educational technology, finance, marketing, e-commerce and space. Despite this, the potential lying dormant in the domestic innovation sector seems to be underutilized.