Summary of the ISDP Forum Deciphering China’s Policy towards North Korea

On February 26, ISDP organized a forum with Dr. Heungkyu Kim, founder and director of the China Policy Institute at Ajou University in South Korea, and Visiting Fellow at ISDP in February.  Dr. Kim’s presentation zeroed in on the common perception that North Korea is China’s strategic asset and natural ally due to ideology, geographical proximity, great power competition, and the fact that they fought on the same side in the Korean War. Dr. Kim argued that a more careful look at China’s policies on North Korea reveal, however, evolutions in approach. In particular, deciphering China’s North Korea policies under Xi Jinping has recently been a subject of intense debate. From a chilly start, relations between the two states appear to have thawed considerably in the past two years. These factors have implications for how we should understand changes in China’s policy, how North Korea views China and what the implications are for resolving the nuclear issue.

Dr. Kim’s presentation was  followed by remarks from Dr. Sangsoo Lee, Head of the ISDP Korea Center, and an open Q&A was moderated by Dr. Niklas Swanström, Executive Director of ISDP.