Understanding the North Korea Problem: Why it Has Become the "Land of Lousy Options"

by William Boik

Book cover for Understanding the North Korea Problem: Why it Has Become the "Land of Lousy Options"

This monograph is intended to draw attention to the challenges faced by the United States in developing a coordinated strategy for dealing with North Korea. Despite the many decades of direct U.S. involvement on the Korean Peninsula, we continue to have little understanding of the North Korean culture or of events inside North Korea. We also do not have a longterm coordinated strategy for North Korea. Over the past decade, the United States has focused much of its attention on the Middle East and the War on Terror, and seems to only focus on North Korea in response to crises when they arise on the peninsula. Mr. Boik provides a timely analysis and thoughtful insights into the significant challenges faced by the United States in developing a strategy for North Korea. He examines the complex history of U.S. policy toward North Korea over the past decade that has left the United States in a position of having no real strategy and virtually no influence over North Korea. He accurately addresses the complicated regional concerns and national security interests of North Korea’s neighbors and their impact on each country’s approach to North Korea. Most importantly, he looks at how the North Korean culture and history have influenced the attitudes of North Korean society and their relationship with the outside world. He concludes by pointing out that, despite the numerous inherent challenges, the United States must develop a strategy to engage Pyongyang if we expect to have any influence over the future direction of events in North Korea. Mr. Boik is uniquely qualified to write this analysis, having served as the Senior U.S. Government Representative in Pyongyang, North Korea, during two 30-day Joint U.S.-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) Missing-in-Action (MIA) Recovery Operations, which searched for missing American soldiers from the Korean War. In this position, he was able to travel throughout North Korea and had daily contact with senior North Korean military and foreign ministry officials. Additionally, Mr. Boik has participated as a member of a Department of Defense delegation negotiating access to North Korean sites for the MIA recovery teams. Strategic Studies Institute.

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