Impact of North Korea sanctions reflected in luminosity gap

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pyongyang night flickr lawrence wang
Pyongyang at nighttime.
Photo credit: 
Flickr/Lawrence Wang

In a recent television interview with the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), SK Center Fellow Yong Suk Lee said that tougher economic sanctions on North Korea are not achieving their intended effects and may actually be exacerbating inequality instead. Analyzing satellite night lights data, Lee found that the North Korean regime has avoided the impact of sanctions by reallocating electricity from poor, rural areas to urban areas where privileged elites reside. To view the episode (in Korean), click here.

Lee published the research in a working paper, “Countering Sanctions: The Unequal Geographic Impact of Economic Sanctions in North Korea,” which was highlighted in a Stanford News Service article in Oct. 2014. Lee also presented his preliminary findings at a public seminar at Stanford.