It has been four years since Kim Jong-un came to power in North Korea after the death of his father in 2011. To assess how the comparatively young and inexperienced leader has been doing so far, we had the pleasure of meeting with Andrei Lankov, the guest of our first episode.
We spoke about Kim Jong-un’s approach to the North Korean economy, the country’s relationship with China, the impact and value of the international community’s sanctions, and whether North Korea has become more stable ever since it is in the hands of Kim Jong-un.
Andrei Lankov is Professor of Korean Studies at Kookmin University. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Leningrad State University and also attended Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung University. He has published books in English and Russian and contributes to various news outlets, including The Korea Times and Al Jazeera.
[The nuclear program] is there to stay. […] There was only one strongman in recent history who agreed to surrender nuclear weapons in exchange for promised economic aid. His name was Gadaffi. Everybody remembers how he died. There was Saddam of Iraq, accused of secretly producing weapons of mass destruction. He didn’t do it, as we know now, but he was overthrown anyway and, as North Koreans officials are always eager to remind, he was overthrown exactly because he had no nuclear weapons. The North Korean logic is: had Saddam really had nuclear weapons, he would be alive and in power.
The interview was recorded on January 25th in Seoul.