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Overcoming US-North Korean Enmity: Lessons from an Eclectic IR Approach


Periods of mutual enmity in US-North Korean relations are typically interrupted by more conciliatory gestures. How can the many twists and turns in this relationship be explained and hopefully overcome so that more long-lasting détente is accomplished? Drawing eclectically on realism and constructivism, we conclude that a nuclear deal should address not only North Korea’s interests in security and regime survival, but also its status concerns. Applying the same theories to the other part of the dyad – the US – we conclude that it may now have material interests in ameliorating the relationship, but that such a development requires US foreign policy discourse to cease depicting North Korea as “irrational” and “evil”.
Keywords: constructivism, North Korea, nuclear issue, realism, ontological security, status