Dialogue with North Korea?

Preconditions for Talking Human Rights With a Hermit Kingdom

Geir Helgesen and Hatla Thelle

  • Published: 2013
  • Pages: 152 pp., illus.
  • Series: Asia Insights
  • Series number: 4
Worldwide
ISBN Paperback: 978 87 7694 126 0, £12.99
  • Argues fruitful dialogue with North Korea on human rights is possible.
  • Offers insights to the mindsets among leaders and the DPRK bureaucracy affecting international relations and decision-making.

There is hardly another country as isolated and with such a bleak image as North Korea. It is portrayed in the Western media as a Hermit Kingdom ruled by an outdated, communist dictatorship whose clandestine nuclear programmes alarm its neighbours and which uses dreadful labour camps to control a population wracked by famine. The regime’s poor track record on human rights is stressed time and again by both Western governments and international organizations.

Prospects look bleak for any improvement in relations let alone the start of a dialogue on human rights. Offering a rare, nuanced analysis of the North Korean situation, this short study argues that not only is a constructive and fruitful dialogue on human rights possible but also it is desirable for both parties.

author image not supplied

Geir Helgesen, cultural sociologist and Director of NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, is a long time Korea observer who has travelled extensively in both parts of Korea, organized track two dialogues between North Korea and the Nordic countries, and maintains a global network of colleagues.

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by Jinsun Bae, PhD Fellow, Copenhagen Business School
From journal:
The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, 32 (1), pp.102-104

"The two authors have much to contribute…

"The two authors have much to contribute…

these individual stories [personal communications] are like small cracks to peep inside the hermit kingdom, and even the critics of engagement would value highly such insider information….The authors not only provide a useful pair of lenses to understand North Korea’s human rights behaviours but make bold blaims that can feed into the ongoing debate on more effective approaches…"

by Andrew McCracken
From journal:
LSE Review of Books, 26 June 2013

"Provocative and often persuasive, Dialogue with North Korea makes an intriguing case for the West adopting a conciliatory approach towards the world’s most repugnant regime.

"Provocative and often persuasive, Dialogue with North Korea makes an intriguing case for the West adopting a conciliatory approach towards the world’s most repugnant regime. Approaching the dilemma of negotiating with Pyongyang from an unusual angle, the book is to be recommended to students of East Asia or readers seeking a different perspective on the seemingly interminable Korean crisis."

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