north korea posterWednesday, April 10, 2013, 3PM – 4:30PM

Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library

‘Nukes, missiles, satellites, prison camps…You’ve heard about North Korea in the media, interested in hearing the truth?

The Brandeis International Journal, in collaboration with the Korean Economic Institute of America, is proud to present to you an expert panel discussion on North Korea.  Speakers will include the former German Ambassador to North Korea who has spent several years living in Pyongyang, and has personally met Kim Jong-Il himself!

Come hear the real story about the nation across the world that is threatening to attack the United States.

Friedrich Löhr
Former German Ambassador to North Korea, Former German Deputy Chief of Mission to China, Former German Consul General of New England
Nicholas Hamisevicz
Director of Research and Academic Affairs at the Korean Economic Institute of America
Sue Mi Terry
Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Former National Intelligence Fellow at CFR, Former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for East Asia at the National Intelligence Council


  1. I was fortunate enough to attend “A Closer Look at North Korea” event. At this time, the happens of North Korea is very relavent and quite honestly a little nerve-racking. There were three people that spoke: Fredrich Lohr, Nicholas Hamisevicz and Sue Mi Terry. What of the main issues face is if President Obama should intervene or talk to North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Un. Ms. Terry said “I think Obama should not engage. Talking to them will increase domestic propaganda”. She also wanted to know what they would be talking about. Her concern that President Obama will just go into North Korea and talk to Kim Jong-Un for the “sake of talking”. She believes it will be a lot easier if the United States takes all the US troops in South Korea and the Koreas talk to each other with American intervention. She mentioned that the United States wants to be allies with the United States without conditions, “North Korea will not and does not want to be an enemy of the US”. Finally Mr. Lohr said he agreed with Ms. Terry and summed up what everyone was thinking, “My guess is as good as yours”. In the minds of the Koreans and Americans Kim Jong-Il is still ruling. Most thought Kim Jong-Un is just the young son. Americans do not still do not know what he is thinking or capable of. Basically, “your guess is as good as mine”

  2. I was so proud to participate in such a great panel discussion. I was very intrigued by Sue Terry and her comments regarding America response to North Korea nuclear arsenal. She believes that the Obama administration should not engage in N. Korea scare tactics because N.Korea is doing this only for domestic propaganda. N. Korea wants to emphasize that they attempted to engage the U.S. into nuclear combat, but they didn’t respond because they were afraid. She believes N. Korea is a self-preserving regime that is not suicidal, so America is not facing war. Ambassador Lohr believes that N. Korea just want to recognize as a nuclear power and want a Peace Treaty with the U.S., to remove US. troops out of S. Korea, so they can develop a world power with S. Korea. He also pose the question, “Try to put yourself in North Korea mental state, what would you do if you were a small state surrounded by powerful states that contain nuclear weapons?” For me, this question raises the realist theory of security dilemma. N. Korea knows that it lives in an anarchic society where most powerful states have built nuclear weaponry, and they need the same kind of defense to secure its boundaries. I was also interested about the two kind of broad camps or responses that a state could give to N. Korea in light of their political behavior. There is the Engagement/ Appeasement camp, which means engage or submit to N. Korea demands. And there is the Hardliner camp, which means respond politically to N. Korea. All three panelist agreed that a hardliner response would be effective in containing N. Korea. Nicholas Hamisevicz added consolidating leadership and taking hardline policies would help maintain power. I really enjoyed listening to all three panelist and they all had great responses in observing N. Korea.

  3. During the panel, the question of why people in North Korea are not organizing a revolution against the regime in North Korea was brought up. One panelist mentioned that it is impossible for this revolution to happen because the political officials in North Korea are always watching every move of the North Koreans. Furthermore, if one person takes action against the regime, he is placing the lives of his family and friends into jeopardy. I can see the logic in this argument; the people of North Korea do not seem to have any effective way to go against the regime. In addressing what would happen if the Kim Jong-un regime was somehow brought down, Ms. Terry stated that the new regime will still be a top-down order. This is one of the main problems that exist in the country. There will be a factional struggle between the elite, and North Korea will experience political turmoil. As I was listening to the panel speak, I found myself slowly understanding the minor and major issues that exist in the North Korea regime. The panelists had insightful remarks about what the United States should be doing in North Korea, and it made me think about what situations lead countries to intervene in the international world order.

  4. This expert panel discussion went over the current state of North Korea, our relationship with them, and the possible consequences of this whole fiasco. The purpose of this was to broaden and deepen understanding of Korea by Americans. There were fundamental questions raised, such as “Are we looking at a crisis like the Cuban missile crisis?” and “What exactly is going on in Korea?” The discussion began with what the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), aka North Korea, hopes to achieve, then to what the current situation is, and finally onto where this crisis is headed. So far, the DPRK has cut off its military hotline with South Korea, threatened nuclear war with the US (which people have made some pretty funny jokes about), and said that it will destroy South Korea. They have been saying this stuff for awhile now, but recently it has intensified. One reason could be because this kind of brinksmanship has paid off for them in the past, as the US and other international parties has been willing to give them concessions in exchange for backing down with their threats. South Korea, meanwhile, has shown enormous restraint. This is because South Korea has quite a bit to lose, and since the DPRK knows this, they know that they can push them without them actually retaliating in any significant way.
    There are two camps of thought for how the US should react to North Korea. First, there is the appeasement camp. Since this strategy worked so well against Nazi Germany pre-World War 2, some experts believe that we should use it in North Korea. They say that we should negotiate with the DPRK whenever possible, and they say that the DPRK is so belligerent because they feel threatened by the US and that it is in no way their fault that they teach their children that we are the devil and that they need to destroy us. The second camp is that of the hardliners. They say that we need to look at what North Korea has done and tell them that enough is enough. They point out that negotiating with North Korea is useless, and that every time we’ve given them concessions, they just threaten us for more.

  5. I found attending this discussion very interesting and very educational. I found it comforting that Dr. Terry explained that North Korea is not a suicidal regime. Dr. Terry said that North Korea simply uses provocation tactis, because they have worked in their favor in the past. South Korea has shown restrain for fear that things would spin out of control. However, the US must not reward bad, or threatening behavior. This requires that the Obama administration does not engage with North Korea’s provocative tactics. Ambassador Lohr added that the North Korean government desires wider acceptance by the international community. One strong point supporting the idea that North Korea is not a suicidal nation is that the North Korean elites have a vested interest in perpetuating the regime. Ambassador Lohr made an interesting point that North Korean threats and attacks can be looked at through the lens of preservation – North Korea’s ultimate goal is to preserve and perpetuate their nation.

  6. By North Korea Panel, I enjoyed the talks from three specialists. Sue Mi Terry: South Korea never retaliates over the course of the year. South Korea knows that they will lose a lot if retaliating. And North Korea is very aware of this fact. South Korea responds with restraints. North Korea is not gonna give up its nuclear weapon. So what North Korea is looking for? North Korea wants to be accepted by US and international community as a nuclear power, like Pakistan. They wanna keep its regime. Ambassador: North Korea shows South Korea how strong they are. North Koreans wants love. North Korean believe that all of the good things coming from King family, bad things coming from US. They believe in Confucianism: emotional, hard working. When things didn’t come to political, they are very nice people. Eg: Prison camp. No rewards for bad behaviors. NK believes that they can get what they want. However, the regime in North Korea is not democratic. Anyone against the regime will suffer. Nicholas: Internal struggle and desire for recognition and the relation with SK. People hope that the young leader of North Korea will bring new sights to North Korea. However, his propaganda is helping him to consolidate his leadership, not for the people. As a young leader, It might be easier for young person to figure out how to provoke other countries around you. Its easier for North Korea leader to talk to South Korea. Obama believes that engagement is the best thing to do. Capitalism is forcing SK to respond to them. North Korea felt the only way to get attention was to go the case on by closing it down and making it a new aspect in the dynamic.

  7. I found the conference very interesting. I read a lot of articles about North Korea but none of them really emphasized Dr.Terry’s point of saying that North Korea is not a suicidal regime but rather tries to catch the attention of the world and especially the United States. It is true that North Korea has been put aside (as a priority) by the Obama’s administration but the recent events put it back on the top priorities. The other very interesting point of this lecture was the explanation of the current very tense situation between North Korea, South Korea and the United States. While the US tried as much as possible to prevent South Korea from leading a preventing attack against North Korea, this last one seriously intensified the threats to target South Korean and American military bases. Of course these threats were taken very seriously (as they could have brought chaos in the region and possibly in the world) but at the same time, as Ambassador Lohr recalled, the main interest of NK is to maintain their regime in place as long as possible and an attack that would lead to a war against the US and South Korea would be destructive for the current regime.

  8. A closer look into North Korea was an expert panel discussion that focused on broadening the listeners understanding of North Korea’s present-day actions. Recently, North Korea threatened nuclear war with the U.S. in addition to destroying South Korea. The panel came to the conclusion that the United States has no ideal response in dealing with North Korea, except to use a hardline policy. President Obama has been adamant about restraining North Korea from uranium usage. Since they usually get what they want through their scare tactics, North Korea is not used to this harsh opposition. South Korea has also shown much restraint because they have much to lose. The reason North Korea has been acting out has been in order to gain acceptance into the international community; They seek to become major players that will influence international decisions.
    Before this lecture, I believed that North Korea would act out in a violent manner. However, the panel discussed that they only want to gain attention, especially from the U.S., not with suicidal intentions. I found this lecture very intriguing because every country involved in this dilemma is seeking to preserve their own self interests.

  9. I found this lecture very interesting and thought provoking. It really made me think of what North Korea is really up to. It it good that North Korea has been a priority to our American regime simply because it poses a real danger to the rest of the world. I found the tense discussion of putting together the United States, North Korea and South Korea. South Korea has been good at not getting carried away in starting a war with North Korea with the help of the United States. The last event directed at South Korea and the United States military bases shows how powerful North Korea can be when they threaten other countries.I liked Ambassadors response because it was contradicting the threats towards United States and South Korea. It would be contradictory because North Korea needs to not wage wars against its aggressors to maintain its autonomous North Korean polity.

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