On September 25-26, 2013, the Asan Institute for Policy Studies hosted the Asan North Korea Conference 2013.
The conference, which started with the keynote speech by the Minister of Unification, Ryoo Kihl-jae, included 37 North Korea experts from South Korea, the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and Germany, who discussed and analyzed North Korea’s nuclear capability, the state of the regime and the economy, and long term scenarios, in addition to other relevant topics. Notable participants included Bruce Bennett from RAND Corporation, Scott Snyder from Council on Foreign Relations, Joshua Pollack from SAIC, and Noboru Yamaguchi from Japan’s National Defense Academy.
Major highlights of the conference included Joshua Pollack’s presentation, which showed proofs of indigenous production of key components for nuclear weapons production. Li Bin from Tsinghua University predicted that North Korea is likely to conduct its fourth nuclear test in order to further finesse the design and miniaturization of nuclear warheads. Bruce Bennett outlined the scenarios for the possible collapse of the North Korean regime, which would be precipitated by the power struggle within the leadership.
Overall, the North Korea experts at the conference agreed that the increasing importance of the market in the North Korean economy raised the odds of the regime’s eventual transformation. Along the same vein Nicholas Eberstadt from AEI presented his research which showed that even with limited policy reforms that did not threaten the regime, North Korea would able to achieve a considerable level of economic development.
The conference was covered by 116 journalists from 61 media outlets, and was attended by more than 400 guests, including a number of diplomatic representatives.