Seminar: The World's Most Enterprising Country: North Korea's State Trading Networks in the Global Economy


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Brown Bag Seminar by Justin Hastings

When: Dec 4 2014 - 12:00pm until Dec 4 2014 - 1:00pm
Where: John A. Burns Hall, Room #3012, East-West Center

North Korea presents something of a paradox: one of the most seemingly isolated, paranoid, and tightly controlled countries in the world survives in large part due its ability to engage in foreign trade, often over strenuous attempts by the US and other countries to stop much of that trade. I characterize North Korea’s trade networks as flexible, entrepreneurial, and surprisingly creative and opportunistic. In part these networks, which have both state and private actors, have arisen as North Korea’s economy has changed over the past twenty years. North Korea’s economy is no longer particularly centrally planned, nor even well controlled, and North Korea’s struggle for survival has led to new ways of doing business. In this seminar, I focus specifically on the business conducted by state trading companies, both to import needed goods (sanctioned or not) into North Korea, and to export (usually sanctioned) goods from North Korea to the rest of the world. As they have come under pressure from sanctions and more generally international stigma, state trading networks have shown flexibility in the goods they buy and sell, the way they structure their networks to take advantage of brokers and differing financial arrangements, and their use of both North Korean state assets and international commercial networks.

Justin Hastings is Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Comparative Politics at the University of Sydney in Australia, where he teaches courses on terrorism, transnational organized crime, Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian politics, and globalization and security issues. Previously he taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and did stints at the Department of Defense, the Institute for Defense Analyses, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He received an MA and PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and an AB in public and international affairs from Princeton University.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Cynthia Wasa Nakachi
Phone: 808.944.7439
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