The North Korea Watchers
For around twenty years, in both government and academia, I worked with ‘North Korea watchers’ – the community of scholars, analysts, government officers, NGO advocates, and journalists who for one reason or another, commit a portion of their lives to watching North Korea. North Korea watchers always intrigued me. They are an incredibly disparate group.
Yet, when they come together at conferences, workshops, or impromptu events addressing emerging crises, there are certain characteristics, which highlight a very real cultural identity – a sense of common understanding; recognition of familiar language, symbols, and oral narrative; and in broad terms, even a shared sense mission.
And today, they are everywhere. After President Trump's 'fire and fury' and 'best friend' summit follow through, the number of North Korea watchers grew exponentially. They now play a sometimes alarming role in public debate on a critical strategic issue. They inform both the public and government on issues that could lead to cataclysmic conflict - but who are the North Korea watchers?
This study explores a microcosm of an expert community and its analysis. It is being undertaken at Yonsei University and as part of a Visiting Fellowship at the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy (APCD), Australian National University (ANU). The project will result in three key academic outputs, including (1) a paper on divisions in the North Korea watching community; (2) a paper on North Korea watching; and (3) an ethnographic fiction monograph on the North Korea watcher community. The first output "Is Pyongyang different in Washington and Seoul?" was published at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEIA) in April 2019.
Data retrieval for the North Korea Watchers research project finished 2019/07. All collected materials were stored securely offline. I'm aware a 'coordinated campaign' used the project to conduct a phishing operation during mid-2019.
Contact me if you need further information or have any concerns.