Special Report: Understanding U.S. and International Sanctions on North Korea

November 20, 2020

Image: Close-up of a $100 bill by Vladislav Reshetnyak via Pexels, modified by NCNK.


Economic sanctions are a central component of U.S. and international efforts to address North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs and influence nearly every aspect of how North Korea engages with the world. However, the details of the North Korea sanctions regime are complex and often poorly-understand, and global implementation of these sanctions has been uneven. The policy efficacy of these sanctions, and their humanitarian impact on the health and livelihoods of ordinary North Koreans, have also been topics of fierce debate.

This Special Report intends to provide a comprehensive look at the sanctions regime targeted against North Korea and its implications, covering both how it functions on paper and how it has operated in practice. After reviewing the history and evolution of the U.S. and international sanctions regimes targeting North Korea, it will examine the current scope and framework of these sanctions, and look at the ways in which they are enforced or evaded. The report will also survey the debates surrounding the efficacy of sanctions against North Korea as a policy tool and assess the ways sanctions have affected North Korea’s economy and the lives of the North Korean people. Finally, the report will look at how North Korea’s self-imposed national quarantine to guard against Covid-19 has raised new questions about the country’s ability to withstand foreign economic pressure.

Read the full report here.

TAGS: Analysis