Donald Kirk

Donald Kirk

Donald Kirk is an author and journalist from Washington, D.C., and travels to South Korea, with stops in London, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines, among other places, writing on the confrontation of forces in the post-September 11 era. He was the Seoul correspondent for the International Herald Tribune from 1997 to 2003. Before gravitating to Northeast Asia, he covered much of the Vietnam War for the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Star. He has also written books on Korea, notably Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae Jung and Sunshine and Korean Dynasty: Hyundai and Chung Ju Yung.

Latest from Donald Kirk

Opinion | Korean peace treaty advocates are chasing an absurd, destructive dream

Demands for a treaty are part of a bill in the US Congress that ignores North Korean human rights violations and its nuclear missile programme. Those pushing for a treaty assume all sides must agree to end the Korean war, which North Korea shows no interest in doing.

Demands for a treaty are part of a bill in the US Congress that ignores North Korean human rights violations and its nuclear missile programme. Those pushing for a treaty assume all sides must agree to end the Korean war, which North Korea shows no interest in doing.

Korean peace treaty advocates are chasing an absurd, destructive dream
9 Sep 2021 - 3:30AM
Opinion | South Korea’s conservative protesters, like Britain’s Brexiteers, reject rule by doctrinaire leftists

The resounding success of the Tories in Britain has its echoes in Seoul, where hundreds of thousands rebel against Moon. The two situations have differences, but in both the middle and working classes have grown weary of out-of-touch leftists.

The resounding success of the Tories in Britain has its echoes in Seoul, where hundreds of thousands rebel against Moon. The two situations have differences, but in both the middle and working classes have grown weary of out-of-touch leftists.

South Korea’s conservative protesters, like Britain’s Brexiteers, reject rule by doctrinaire leftists
18 Dec 2019 - 11:46PM
Opinion | The missile threat the world needs to worry about is not from North Korea, but Russia and Japan

For all its tests, North Korea can’t risk firing missiles for real. However, the US has made the world a more dangerous place by killing a missile treaty with Russia and intending to deploy more missiles in Asia.

For all its tests, North Korea can’t risk firing missiles for real. However, the US has made the world a more dangerous place by killing a missile treaty with Russia and intending to deploy more missiles in Asia.

The missile threat the world needs to worry about is not from North Korea, but Russia and Japan
15 Aug 2019 - 8:17PM
Opinion | North Korea is the only winner when South Korea and Japan spar over historical issues

A court case triggered the latest row between the East Asian democracies, but decades of animosity have contributed. The two sides should remember all that unites them, however, and that an escalating dispute means neither wins.

A court case triggered the latest row between the East Asian democracies, but decades of animosity have contributed. The two sides should remember all that unites them, however, and that an escalating dispute means neither wins.

North Korea is the only winner when South Korea and Japan spar over historical issues
17 Jul 2019 - 7:41PM
Opinion | South Korea’s proposed anti-corruption unit is a thinly disguised power grab for Moon Jae-in – and it won’t work

If Moon can create a special new agency to investigate corruption, we can expect him to use it against his political opponents, who have been emboldened by his failing diplomatic and domestic policies.

If Moon can create a special new agency to investigate corruption, we can expect him to use it against his political opponents, who have been emboldened by his failing diplomatic and domestic policies.

South Korea’s proposed anti-corruption unit is a thinly disguised power grab for Moon Jae-in – and it won’t work
3 May 2019 - 5:18PM
Opinion | Moon Jae-in’s problem: his mode of North Korean diplomacy is incompatible with South Korean democracy

The South Korean leader’s strategy for bringing North Korea to negotiations has included silence on Kim Jong-un’s ruthlessness and rights abuses, which could jeopardise South Koreans’ hard-won rights.

The South Korean leader’s strategy for bringing North Korea to negotiations has included silence on Kim Jong-un’s ruthlessness and rights abuses, which could jeopardise South Koreans’ hard-won rights.

Moon Jae-in’s problem: his mode of North Korean diplomacy is incompatible with South Korean democracy
18 Apr 2019 - 10:40AM
Opinion | South Korea’s Moon Jae-in may be the biggest loser of the Trump-Kim summit flop

With opposition mounting at home and sanctions still blocking inter-Korean cooperation, the relative calm on the peninsula may be small consolation for Moon Jae-in.

With opposition mounting at home and sanctions still blocking inter-Korean cooperation, the relative calm on the peninsula may be small consolation for Moon Jae-in.

South Korea’s Moon Jae-in may be the biggest loser of the Trump-Kim summit flop
1 Mar 2019 - 10:38PM
Opinion | If communist Vietnam can thrive on capitalist enterprise, why not North Korea?

Aside from a meeting with Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un’s trip to Hanoi may open his eyes to the possibility of unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit in a tightly controlled society, at no risk to his grip on power.

Aside from a meeting with Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un’s trip to Hanoi may open his eyes to the possibility of unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit in a tightly controlled society, at no risk to his grip on power.

If communist Vietnam can thrive on capitalist enterprise, why not North Korea?
15 Feb 2019 - 11:07AM
Opinion | As China feuds with the US, don’t expect it to encourage better behaviour from North Korea

Despite hopes that China will encourage Kim Jong-un to seek a detente, what Beijing really wants is to make life difficult for Washington as the trade war and Huawei case drag on.

Despite hopes that China will encourage Kim Jong-un to seek a detente, what Beijing really wants is to make life difficult for Washington as the trade war and Huawei case drag on.

As China feuds with the US, don’t expect it to encourage better behaviour from North Korea
6 Feb 2019 - 8:26AM
Opinion | A second Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un summit? They don’t even agree on what the first one meant

North Korea and the US may not agree on what ‘denuclearise’ means, but is there harm in meeting again? The answer is yes, actually, if these summits give the impression that diplomacy has been tried and did not work.

North Korea and the US may not agree on what ‘denuclearise’ means, but is there harm in meeting again? The answer is yes, actually, if these summits give the impression that diplomacy has been tried and did not work.

A second Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un summit? They don’t even agree on what the first one meant
7 Dec 2018 - 6:27AM
North Korea plays the cruellest game with family reunions
25 Aug 2018 - 10:31PM
Will North Korea’s return of soldiers’ remains buy a US exit from the Korean peninsula?

North Korea has used US soldiers’ remains as a moneymaking scheme in the past, and now may be after a bigger payoff – a peace declaration and exit of US troops from the Korean peninsula

North Korea has used US soldiers’ remains as a moneymaking scheme in the past, and now may be after a bigger payoff – a peace declaration and exit of US troops from the Korean peninsula

Will North Korea’s return of soldiers’ remains buy a US exit from the Korean peninsula?
20 Jul 2018 - 10:30PM
From trade war to third world war? From Korea to the South China Sea, Trump’s tariffs risk escalation

US trade deficits make Trump’s aggressive strategy understandable, but China’s reliance on the US market has played a major role in keeping disputes – particularly over territorial waters – under control. As Trump hinders access, that could change

US trade deficits make Trump’s aggressive strategy understandable, but China’s reliance on the US market has played a major role in keeping disputes – particularly over territorial waters – under control. As Trump hinders access, that could change

From trade war to third world war? From Korea to the South China Sea, Trump’s tariffs risk escalation
11 Jul 2018 - 3:29PM
How Donald Trump sold out South Korea while furthering Kim Jong-un’s dream of domination

Donald Trump has raised false of hopes of Korean reunification but Kim Jong-un’s agenda cannot coincide with democracy.

Donald Trump has raised false of hopes of Korean reunification but Kim Jong-un’s agenda cannot coincide with democracy.

How Donald Trump sold out South Korea while furthering Kim Jong-un’s dream of domination
28 Jun 2018 - 8:11PM
Trump hands Xi Jinping a win in Singapore – and may have handed all of Asia to China

The US president may have earned his ‘dotard’ nickname in Singapore by signalling interest in reducing America’s military presence in East Asia, leaving China free to pursue its dreams of regional – and continental – dominance.

The US president may have earned his ‘dotard’ nickname in Singapore by signalling interest in reducing America’s military presence in East Asia, leaving China free to pursue its dreams of regional – and continental – dominance.

Trump hands Xi Jinping a win in Singapore – and may have handed all of Asia to China
19 Jun 2018 - 6:40PM
US-North Korea talks have many obstacles to overcome – starting with where to meet

The first hurdle in preparing the US-North Korea summit is the US’ unwillingness to meet Kim Jong-un on his home turf in Pyongyang, but a compromise there only means moving on to thornier issues, like North Korea’s definition of ‘denuclearise’ and American unwillingness to withdraw from South Korea.

The first hurdle in preparing the US-North Korea summit is the US’ unwillingness to meet Kim Jong-un on his home turf in Pyongyang, but a compromise there only means moving on to thornier issues, like North Korea’s definition of ‘denuclearise’ and American unwillingness to withdraw from South Korea.

US-North Korea talks have many obstacles to overcome – starting with where to meet
11 Apr 2018 - 10:24AM
The real reasons behind Xi Jinping’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

A looming trade war with the US, Japan’s shift to the right under Abe, and the continuing challenges to China’s geopolitical position in the region are all part of the calculations that convinced Xi a meeting was necessary.

A looming trade war with the US, Japan’s shift to the right under Abe, and the continuing challenges to China’s geopolitical position in the region are all part of the calculations that convinced Xi a meeting was necessary.

The real reasons behind Xi Jinping’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
28 Mar 2018 - 3:10PM
Why South Korea’s Olympic overtures to Kim Jong-un will misfire in the long run

By capitulating to most of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s demands before the Olympics, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has sent the message that he is all too willing to compromise.

By capitulating to most of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s demands before the Olympics, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has sent the message that he is all too willing to compromise.

Why South Korea’s Olympic overtures to Kim Jong-un will misfire in the long run
21 Feb 2018 - 7:12PM
The Olympics returns to South Korea 30 years on – and so do the protests

Reflecting on the history of the Olympics in Korea, the differences are apparent between the 2018 Winter Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics – today, the demonstrations are against North Korea, and the North can do much more than blow up airliners

Reflecting on the history of the Olympics in Korea, the differences are apparent between the 2018 Winter Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics – today, the demonstrations are against North Korea, and the North can do much more than blow up airliners

The Olympics returns to South Korea 30 years on – and so do the protests
7 Feb 2018 - 5:37PM
What South Korea is risking in Winter Olympics diplomacy with nuclear North Korea and Kim Jong-un
2 Jan 2018 - 7:12PM
Trump and Tillerson play word games on talks with North Korea
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
What next from Kim Jong-un, as Trump piles on the pressure over North Korea’s nuclear programme?
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
Donald Trump’s Asia trek through Japan, South Korea and China will test the art of his deals

The US president faces several difficult tasks as he meets leaders in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, not least of which will be keeping the pressure on North Korea while easing China’s concerns about THAAD.

The US president faces several difficult tasks as he meets leaders in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, not least of which will be keeping the pressure on North Korea while easing China’s concerns about THAAD.

Donald Trump’s Asia trek through Japan, South Korea and China will test the art of his deals
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
200 reasons why North Korea declaring war is nothing new
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
Trump’s threats at UN to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea demonstrate little relationship with reality

Donald Trump’s over-the-top declaration can’t hide the fact that military action against the North would be deeply unpopular at home, costly and opposed by North Korea’s neighbours

Donald Trump’s over-the-top declaration can’t hide the fact that military action against the North would be deeply unpopular at home, costly and opposed by North Korea’s neighbours

Trump’s threats at UN to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea demonstrate little relationship with reality
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
Why Samsung heir’s jailing will do little to dent its smartphone profits, in the short term at least
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
Can South Korea’s Moon Jae-in find a path to reconciliation with North Korea?

Donald Kirk considers the dilemma confronting the South Korean president, as he seeks to balance a need for US protection with his wish for reconciliation

Donald Kirk considers the dilemma confronting the South Korean president, as he seeks to balance a need for US protection with his wish for reconciliation

Can South Korea’s Moon Jae-in find a path to reconciliation with North Korea?
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
Can America survive the era of Trump family values?
19 Jul 2017 - 8:23PM
Otto Warmbier’s death brings to light the brutality of North Korean dynastic rule
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
How North Korea’s nuclear weapons are testing Seoul’s special ties with the US
20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM