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John Swenson-Wright on the Korean Crisis

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies | News and Events | Latest News

China Workshop

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations in the Department of east Asian Studies, has been much sought after recently for informed commentary on the developing crisis surounding the government rhotoric and miltary activities of the Democratic People's Rebublic of Korea, a.k.a. North Korea. Dr Swenson-Wright is also a Senior Consulting Fellow of the Chatham House Asia Programme.

This page gathers together a selection of Dr Swenson-Wright's commentary on the North Korea situation in the media and online.


What does Pyongyang want?

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham House, wrote a viewoint article for BBC News.


Discussion at FrontLine Club in London

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham House, participated in a panel discussion on North Korea along with former UK Ambassador to NK, John Everard, and Andrea Berger of the Royal United Services Instiute. A video of the discussion is available on YouTube.


World Update on BBC World Service

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham House, participated in the BBC World Service's World Update programme broadcast on 15th April from Seoul --- talking about President Park Geun-hye from the 9 minute mark to about 12 minutes in. The programme willonly remain available online for one week following the initial broadcast.


North Korea `Bluff' May Last 2 Weeks

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham House, addresses rising tension between North and South Korea in an extended discussion, live from Seoul, with Francine Lacqua and Guy Johnson aired on 10th April on Bloomberg Television's "The Pulse."


North Korea leadership 'looks comical but is deadly serious'

North Korea is variously portrayed as unpredictable, unhinged and, on occasion, slightly comical. This BBC Asia piece explores the difference between the serious and the farcical views of the DPRK.


New Korean war: who stands to gain?

An extended discussion, aired on 10th April by the Voice of Russia radio station featuring, among others, Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House. An earlier discussion, broadcast on 23rd January, addressed the prospect of the February nuclear test under the title "North Korea: does it mean it?".


RTE Radio 1 Interviews on North Korea

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House, spoke on 5th April in an interview on RTE Radio 1's "Today with Pat Kenney" programme dealing with the movement of North Korea's missile batteries.

An earlier interview on the same programme, aired on 12 February, addressed the impact of the North Korean nuclear test that took place that day.


North Korea: How to Respond?

North Korea's latest set of provocations including its warning that it cannot guarantee the safety of foreign diplomats in Pyongyang in the event of a conflict, its recent deployment of two medium-range missile barriers to its east coast, the temporary withdrawal of all North Korean workers from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and now a warning that foreign residents of South Korea should be readying their evacuation plans, have all led to intensified fears in the region that the peninsula may be inching perilously closer to full-blown war.

Expert coment from Chatham House

Article written by Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House.


North Korea's artful long game

Listening in Seoul to North Korea's threats to attack the US and its Republic of Korea ally, there is an urgent need to understand the motives of the Pyongyang administration.

Prospect Magazine article

Article written by Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House.


Woman's Hour: President Park Guen-hye

"Not the most orthodox of outlets for political analysis, but hopefully of interest"

BBC Radio Four's Woman's Hour discussion on South Korea's female president, Park Guen-hye with Dr John Swenson-Wright, Chatham House.


North Korea Tests International Resolve

The announcement by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that it has entered into a 'state of war' with both the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), together with its claim that it is prepared, if threatened directly, to attack US targets in Guam, Hawaii and the continental United States have raised fears that the peninsula may be on the brink of a full-blown military conflict.

Expert coment from Chatham House

Article written by Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House.


North Korea: Will new UN sanctions persuade or provoke?

North Korea has threatened to defend its sovereignty by launching pre-emptive nuclear strikes against both the United States and its ally, South Korea, claiming that Washington is itself preparing to attack the North with nuclear weapons.

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, writes in his capacity as Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House, on the BBC News Website.


China talks tough over North Korea, but is hesitant to act

Although Beijing is irritated by its neighbour's nuclear test, the fear of instability is real. The next few days will be critical

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge writes in the Guardian's "Comment is Free" section.


Nuclear North Korea: Time to Get Tough?

"North Korea's announcement of its successful carrying out of a 'high value' nuclear test has raised acute concerns within the international community about a renewed and possible enhanced threat to regional and global security."

Expert coment from Chatham House

Article written by Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, University of Cambridge and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House.


New faces, old tensions
The leaders who could mean a fresh beginning for East Asia

"It is a time of tension in East Asia with growing nationalism, territorial claims between Japan and its neighbours and the persistent challenge of a nuclear North Korea. Recent leadership changes, however, offer the prospect of a fresh start in regional relations."

Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, writes in his capacity as Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House, in The World Today, Volume 69, Number 1 (February, 2013).


Regional security challenges in East Asia
Chatham House audio podcast

Dr John Swenson-Wright also features in a recent audio podcast from Chatham House in which he looks at the regional security challenges currently dominating the region and, with new leaders in Japan and South Korea, and a new US Secretary of State, the relationships surrounding North Korea, and the domestic reasons for their foreign policies.


What is driving North Korea's nuclear test plan?

Official announcements from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) indicate that North Korea may be about to test a nuclear device - the third such instance, following two earlier tests in 2006 and 2009. Why might the North be preparing to test?

Dr John Swenson-Wright writes for the BBC News website.