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How the North Korean Economy Should—and Shouldn’t—be Used in Negotiations

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To date, assistance for North Korea’s economy has not factored into negotiations between the United States, South Korea and North Korea in any real or meaningful way. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in handed Kim Jong Un a USB stick with grandiose plans for infrastructure investments at their first summit on April 27, and South Korean companies are looking into how they can best reap the benefits if tensions continue to de-escalate. Trump administration officials, as well as the president himself, have suggested that American companies could come to North Korea en masse if relations between the countries improve, meeting stern rebuke from North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun and government officials. Despite these overtures, little concrete information has emerged about how the US and South Korea plan to leverage Kim’s commitment to economic growth in current negotiations.

At this early stage, this omission may be natural. Going forward, however, it is crucial that the United States, South Korea and the other countries involved in the process not only use wise economic policies, but also coordinate amongst themselves for a consistent, coherent approach that encourages North Korean economic development.

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