“He can tell his people that he met with the world’s most powerful leaders and take that propaganda and use it to justify his policies,” said Jean H. Lee, a former Associated Press reporter who served as bureau chief in Pyongyang from 2008 to 2013. “That makes it very hard to challenge him or raise any criticism and allows him to maintain very tough policies on his people.”Read More
Jean H. Lee, a Korea expert at the Wilson Center, noted that in addition to siding with Kim, Trump has adopted some of the North Korean leader’s subversive language. She pointed to Trump’s reference to U.S.-South Korea drills as “war games,” a term Lee described as pure North Korean propaganda.
“It betrays his lack of understanding on these issues and how easily swayed he is — it’s like North Korea 101,” said Lee, who served as the Associated Press bureau chief in Pyongyang from 2008 to 2013. “He is placing a priority on his personal relationship over what’s best for the United States and the region.”Read More
Speaking about the embassy raid, Jean H Lee, a former AP news agency bureau chief in Pyongyang who now works at the Wilson Center thinktank, told me that she believes “these actions have jeopardised lives on all sides: their own, those of defectors they have extracted, and those in the embassy”.Read More
“I can’t see Kim giving up his nuclear weapons entirely,” said Jean H. Lee, a Korea expert at the Wilson Center in Washington. “They are his ‘treasured sword’ and all that he has to give him leverage. But he is willing to barter some dismantling of his nuclear program in exchange for concessions.”
“I worry about the consequences,” said Jean H. Lee, a Korea expert at the Wilson Center, a research organization in Washington. “Did these two leaders and their teams build up enough good will to keep the lines of communication open, or are we headed into another period of stalled negotiations — or worse, tensions — that would give the North Koreans more time and incentive to keep building their weapons program?”
“This result leaves very little room for Kim to save face,” she added.Read More
Jean H. Lee, a Korea expert at the Wilson Center, a Washington-based research organization, said of Mr. Kim that “he does want a changed relationship with the United States, and to improve his country’s shattered economy.”
“But we need to remember that he sacrificed his people’s well-being, making decisions that deprived them of food, clean water, electricity, heat and medicine, in order to build nuclear weapons,” Ms. Lee added. “He won’t be willing to give his weapons up readily, and may be prepared to sacrifice his people again if things don’t go his way.”Read More
Secure a political declaration to end the Korean War
Jean H. Lee, director Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy
The biggest prizes for Kim will be diplomatic as well as economic.
Kim, like Trump, craves a big dramatic and historic moment in which the two leaders, foes for seven decades, stand side by side to declare a political end to the Korean War. To be clear: Such a declaration would not serve as a peace treaty formally ending the war. But it would be enough for Kim to take home to his people as a propaganda victory.
Ending the Korean War was a goal neither his father nor grandfather accomplished before dying; to accomplish that task would cement his authority inside North Korea as a master statesman and military strategist.
Such a declaration would allow Kim to turn the country's focus away from war and toward the economy; it also would start the lengthy process of negotiating a formal peace treaty with China, the United Nations and the United States.
More importantly, Kim will be seeking economic concessions in return for rapprochement and promises to give up elements of his nuclear program. A lifting of crippling UN sanctions imposed on North Korea is a priority for Kim. Once sanctions are eased, South Korea in particular is poised to restart joint economic projects that could serve as an economic lifeline to Pyongyang as well as to rebuild North Korea's decaying infrastructure. In addition, Seoul must wait for concrete nuclear concessions from North Korea to justify lifting its own bilateral sanctions in place since 2010.
For Kim, a successful roadmap to denuclearization in Hanoi would pave the way for North Korea's return to the international fold, politically and economically, while delaying the complete relinquishing of his prized nuclear assets for many years to come.
“The North Koreans do not take criticism well,” said Jean H. Lee, an analyst at the Wilson Center and a former reporter who opened an Associated Press bureau in Pyongyang in 2012. “They are very sensitive to an assault on their way of life and their political system and their penal code. I suspect there may be some reluctance to bring up the issue of defectors and showcase them in a way that Trump did last year, to avoid angering the North Koreans.”
“Both the South Koreans and the North Koreans have made a very compelling case for starting the process with at least a declaration,” Jean H. Lee, a Korea expert at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, said at a talk there on Wednesday.Read More
Though only a brief interaction, it was telling that the salute was included in the documentary, according to Jean H. Lee, a North Korea scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
“This is a moment that will be used over and over in North Korea’s propaganda as 'proof' that the American president defers to the North Korean military,” Lee said. “It will be treated as a military victory by the North Koreans.”Read More
"The North Koreans won't have the same kind of access to the Olympics as we do. But if their athletes do well, they will certainly be celebrating it."Read More
“As a young man in his mid-30s, Kim Jong Un must woo the next generation if he’s to rule for decades to come,” Lee told Fox News. “Sports and technology — two things all young people love — are part of that equation.”Read More
"Snowboarding just doesn't have the same exposure there, and she doesn't have the same accomplishments yet as someone like Yuna Kim," says Jean Lee, a global fellow at the Wilson Center, who previously served as Associated Press bureau chief in Pyongyang, North Korea. "But she has the potential. If she goes home with a medal, and I think she probably will, she'll become a huge star in South Korea."Read More
Political experts say there is much to be learned from the warship crisis 50 years ago that brought the Korean peninsula to the brink of a second war.Read More
I was just on a snowboarding trip with Jean and downloaded her brain for two hours (look out for that in a future article). - Jada Yuan, the New York Times' world travelerRead More
Go inside the North Korean ski field where South Korea will join the North for Winter Olympics training. With photography by Jean H. Lee for Getty Images.Read More
One of 2017's defining geopolitical slugfests was between heavyweight personalities President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
It was an international standoff that descended into personal name-calling, with Trump labeling Kim "little rocket man" and the U.S. president being described as an "old lunatic" and a "dotard" in return.
If the past year were one round in a boxing match, most analysts say there's only one winner.Read More
This is the new face of propaganda in North Korea, says Jean Lee, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. It’s softer and more subtle than the nightly news broadcasts, and more entertaining too, she said. “[North Koreans] are much more inclined to pay attention because they’re enjoying it.”Read More
In new research, Jean H. Lee described how Kim Jong Un's administration is creating made-for-TV dramas concentrated on youth and technology to appeal to the next generation of North Koreans.Read More
In the South Korean capital Seoul, Trump will find people who have lived with that reality for decades.
"It's crucial for Trump to show that he's willing to defend and protect South Korea because there's a lot of questions and concerns on the part of South Koreans about his commitment to that alliance, and that has fed fears here in South Korea that they may be abandoned," said Jean Lee, a global fellow at the Wilson Center and former Pyongyang bureau chief for The Associated Press.Read More