10 Years of The North Korea Challenge

A China in the World Podcast

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the China in the World Podcast, Carnegie China is launching a series of lookback episodes, using clips from previous interviews to put current international issues in context. This episode looks back on 10 years of China’s relationship with North Korea.

Developments on the Korean Peninsula have undergone major changes since the launch of the China in the World Podcast. In 2011, Kim Jong-un succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, as supreme leader of North Korea, beginning his tenure with a series of internal purges and a more assertive military posture. While the Obama administration was able to reach a moratorium agreement with North Korea on nuclear and long-range missile tests in February 2012, the agreement was quickly broken in April that same year with an attempted space launch of the Unha-3. Between 2013 and 2016, North Korea held three nuclear tests, followed in 2017 by North Korea’s first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the United States, the Hwasong-15. A subsequent “war of words” between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump resulted in the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, in Singapore in 2018, followed by Kim’s “self-imposed” moratorium on nuclear and long-range tests, which was broken in February 2022. Since the Biden administration entered office, North Korea has conducted over 40 missile tests, including 5 ICBM launches, while spurning unconditional diplomatic overtures from Washington. This episode helps shed light on the evolution of geopolitics on the Korean Peninsula over the past 10 years.