Interview with Dr. Chang-hyun Jung: Kaesong, cellphones and the future of the peninsula



Last week the two Koreas struck an agreement to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex, an inter-Korean project closed by North Korea in April amid escalating tensions on the peninsula.

NK News spoke to Dr. Chang-hyun Jung, adjunct professor at Kookmin University, on August 7, the day North Korea accepted South Korea’s proposal to engage in talks over the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue, to find out about the past, present and future of inter-Korean relations.


The crisis over the Kaesong Industrial Complex was essentially a byproduct of a U.S.-DPRK standoff, further aggravated by verbal conflicts between the two Koreas, Jung argues.

In particular, North Korea chose to put pressure on operations at Kaesong in response to March’s expansion of the “Key Resolve”  joint U.S.-ROK naval drills. The South Korean Ministry of Defense reacted in turn by suggesting it would dispatch commandos to the complex in case of a potential hostage situation and even spoke of preemptive strikes, to which North Korea subsequently threatened the South with a closure of the complex.

Dr. Chang-hyun Jung argues that there are two major reasons why the North Korean leadership chose to escalate the Kaesong issue this Spring.

Firstly, North Korea believed it needed to react against increasing international sanctions and the expansion of  joint U.S.-ROK military drills. After the third nuclear test, sanctions against North Korea became more volatile and against such a backdrop, it was difficult for those in leadership positions to make their case for diplomacy.

Secondly, as the first anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s succession approached, it became necessary for him to reassert his power and leadership credentials in a public fashion.

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  1. Dear Professor Chang-hyun Jung

    In eastern Europe Albania fell because of Itallian TV. Is your thesis that the cell phone will be the doom of the Kim Family regeime in North Korea. Interesting. I read recently that there are plans to send DVD copies of the Sony movie, “The Interview” into North Korea. What do you think of this type of activity.

    Does anyone know the generational naming poem of the Kim family?
    I used to be interested in following events in North Korea in my former jobs. I am retired now but was wondering if this is known.

    세 대 명명시 (Is this the proper Korean term?)

    Chinese Korean (Translated from Google)
    班次聯 연합 시프트
    派字歌 워드 노래 보내기


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