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How you can start a conversation about North Korea this election season (and why you should)

Media Uncovered  |  By Beth Hallowell, Sep 22, 2016
Researchers on a reforestation delegation study tour to China

North Korean Reforestation Delegation Study Tour to China

Photo: AFSC / AFSC

Why should we be talking about North Korea? 

In last week's New York Times, analyst Joel Wit spelled out why the next U.S. president should engage with North Korea. The reason is simple: Militarism hasn't worked. Sanctions won't work. And increasingly, leaders on all sides are saying that only engagement will work.

This doesn't surprise us here: Our research shows that engagement can and does work. Academic research backs this up. So what's the problem? One HUGE problem is the people in the U.S. feel threatened by North Korea's repeated nuclear tests. Recent opinion polls show that the U.S. public considers North Korea to be one of the top threats. The media stoke our fears by constantly bombarding us with images on the evening news and online. Too often, they fail to explore how engagement could work, like the diplomatic solutions that Wit described in his article. Fortunately, we've noticed recent shifts in how this conversation is playing out, and Wit's article is a good example. That's where you can help.

Talking about North Korea isn't exactly a standard dinner conversation to have with your kids, but there are five easy things you can do to help us change how people talk - and hopefully, how they feel - about North Korea. 

  1. Check out our recent blog post on how the media are part of the problem. Share the post with your media-saavy friends.
  2. Seen any coverage of North Korea that is racist, xenophobic, or militaristic? Tell us about it in the comments or share the link with us on our Facebook page. While you're at it, follow us on Facebook and the Korea Peace Network too, for updates on this issue.
  3. Are you on Instagram? Check out @EverydayDPRK for photos about everyday life in a place that few people from the U.S. ever get to visit.
  4. Interested in diving deeper? Then check out our new report on engaging North Korea. Share it with people you know who might be interested in learning about an old issue from a new perspective.
  5. Ready to act? Tell your member of Congress that engagement can work.

Starting a conversation about North Korea is the only way to help people in the U.S. feel less afraid. It may sound like a small thing, but it's an important first step in changing people's hearts and minds. Had a conversation recently about this topic? Did you try any of the steps we listed above? Tell us about it in the comments.