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Title: Caught in a Lucid Dream: North Korean Negotiating Behavior
Authors: Jeon, Minjee April
Advisors: Kotkin, Stephen
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Among a wide variety of policy tools available to authoritarian regimes, diplomacy holds a special place for North Korea because it believes that the primary threat against the regime comes from abroad rather than from within. The regime’s primary concern emanates from the existential threat posed by ideological adversaries carried over from the Cold War. In order to manage this threat, it becomes inevitable to rely on diplomacy. The purpose of this study is to identify and explain patterns in North Korea’s negotiating behavior since the 1990s by analyzing its diplomatic maneuvers and strategies within the context of high-profile negotiations that took place during this period. North Korean negotiating behavior is studied from various aspects; the influence of the media, propaganda, language, decision-making structures, and cultural values are studied. Specific tactics and strategies are evaluated based on how they are deployed, frequency of use, and their connection to motives. Primary sources are collected from personal interviews of individuals and published firsthand accounts of persons that have been involved in negotiations or other forms of diplomatic interactions with the North Korea. Data also includes archival documents of diplomatic exchanges with the North such as memorandums of conversations, transcripts, and telegrams, primarily collected from the Digital National Security Archive. Four prominent characteristics were identified: (1) engagement with enemies, (2) Trunk-lining, (3) constrained bureaucracy, and (4) ideology-based face-saving and blaming strategies. They are motivated by regime survival against the existential threat that external actors pose. They also reflect three broad mechanisms it uses to achieve regime survival: extraction of resources, security assurances, and regime legitimacy. The strategic opening of the 1990s aimed at attaining resources such as food aid, LWRs, and HFOS and gaining security assurances. Trunk-lining helped the North buy time and create loopholes for eventually building a nuclear weapons program that would provide the ultimate security assurance that it could not get from the strategic opening of the early 1990s. The constrained behavior of North Korean negotiator demonstrates that negotiators indirectly participate in these three mechanisms by having no alternative but to adhere to the regime’s instructions. Lastly, face-saving and blaming contribute to maintaining the regime’s legitimacy inside and outside North Korea.
Extent: 102 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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