Columbia-KINU Joint Project on Inter-Korean Law and Policy

In 2017 the Center for Korean Legal Studies at Columbia Law School (CKLS) and the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) concluded a 5-year project aimed at advancing the development of Inter-Korean cooperation through the production of world-class research from a law and global governance perspective.

Annual Conference

Each year of the project CKLS and KINU co-hosted a conference exploring the law and policy foundations that contribute to the advancement of peaceful inter-Korean relations from a global perspective.  The goal was to produce outcomes and recommendations that facilitate the development of new strategies for to promote eventual reunification.

2017 Conference

On October 20, 2017 CKLS and KINU held an all-day conference entitled "Precarious Equilibrium: East Asian Power Dynamics and the Question of Peace in Korea." Topics discussed included the "Korean Question" as a balance of power issue; the challenges of unilateral solutions, and alternative pathways to solving the "Korean Question." 

Panelists included Bradley Babason, Bowdoin College; Kuyoun Chung, KINU; John Delury, Yonsei University; Henri Feron '16, Columbia Law School; Kyu-Chang Lee, KINU; Terence Roehrig, U.S. Naval War College; Jeong-Ho Roh '88, Columbia Law School; and Chang-Seok Yang, Ingis Community.

2016 Conference

On September 21, 2016 CKLS and KINU held an all-day conference exploring the complex issues surrounding South Korea-North Korea unification, with an emphasis on denuclearization, cooperationand reconciliation. Topics discussed included the legal framework of diplomacy under the San Francisco system, nuclear diplomacy, the sanctions regime against North Korea, conditions for rapprochement, state succession, and models for unification. 

Panelists included Kyung-ok Do, KINU; Henri Feron, Columbia Law School; Ruediger Frank, University of Vienna; Alexandre Mansourov, U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS; Ye Joon Rim, KINU; Jeong-Ho Roh, Columbia Law School; Leon Sigal, Social Science Research Council; Hazel Smith, UCLAN; Joel S. Wit, U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS; and Chang-Seok Yang, Ignis Community.

See photos from the conference.

The book published following the conference, Pathways to a Peaceful Korean Peninsula: Denuclearlization, Reconciliation and Cooperation is available. Please send inquires to Joan Wargo,

Table of Contents

PART I: Reflecting on Seventy Years of Diplomacy
  • The Legal Framework of Diplomacy under the San Francisco System: Korea and the Formation of a New Legal Order
    Jeong-Ho Roh
  • What Have Twenty Years of Nuclear Diplomacy Achieved?
    Leon V. Sigal
  • The Future of US Policy toward North Korea and the Role of South Korea
    Joel S. Wit and Sun Young Ahn
PART II: Assessing the Current Spiral of Escalation
  • The Endgame Question: Where Is Escalation Leading Us, and Is It Worth It?
    Alexandre Y. Mansourov
  • Sanctions and North Korea: The Absence of a Humanitarian Emergency and the Crisis of Development
    Hazel Smith
  • Sanctions against North Korea: An Analysis from an International Human Rights Law Perspectiv
    Kyung-Ok Do
PART III: Proposing a De-Escalation
  • Internal Conditions for Rapprochement: What Kind of Economic Opening is Feasible?
    Rüdiger Frank
  • External Conditions for Rapprochement: What Avenues and Opportunities Would a North Korean Opening-Up Present for the United States and Korea?
    Chang-Seok Yang
  • State Succession in the Context of Korean Unification
    Ye Joon Rim
  • Solving the Korean Nuclear Crisis through a Non-Aligned and Ideologically Neutral Reunification
    Henri Féron

2015 Conference

On October 22, 2015, CKLS and KINU co-hosted a conference titled “Inter-Korean Relations and the Unification Process in Regional and Global Contexts.” The topics discussed included the prospects for inter-Korean relations after 70 years of division and inter-Korean relations in the context of a globalizing world. Within each of these broad areas of discussion, conference participants explored related subtopics including inter-Korean relations in historical and legal perspective, inter-Korean regional cooperation, implications for the divided nations in view of an increasingly globalized world, issues surrounding international investment and cyber security.

Panelists included Charles Armstrong, The Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences, Columbia University; Douglas Arner, University of Hong Kong; Jung-Hyun Cho, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Law School; Kyung-Ok Doh, KINU; Barry K. Gills, University of Helsinki; Joseph Harte, Columbia Law School; Michael A. Hay, Hay, Kalb & Associates (Pyongyang Law Offices); Kyu-Chang Lee, KINU; Jong-Chul Park, KINU; Jeong-Ho Roh '88, Columbia Law School; Rhea Siers, Georgetown University; Sue Mi Terry, Bower Group Asia; and Chang-Seok Yang, Kaesong Industrial District Foundation.

See photos from the conference.

Columbia-KINU Speaker Series 

In 2015 the Center for Korean Legal Studies at Columbia Law School and the Korea Institute for National Unification inaugurated a Speaker Series on Inter-Korean Law and Policy, with great success.  The events are open to the Columbia Law School community as well as the general public.  

2015 Speaker Series

“Foreign Investment and International Arbitration in the DPRK”
Dr. Michael Hay, Principal, Hay, Kalb & Associates

On October 23, 2015 the Center hosted Michael Hay, who spoke about recent changes in North Korean law and how those changes affect foreign companies doing business in the DPRK. Hay, Kalb & Associates is the only foreign law firm and business consulting firm in North Korea. Dr. Hay shared unique insights on his work and experience in one of the world's most elusive legal systems. Hay stated that although North Korea’s legal system is changing in order to attract foreign investment, nations other than China, Russia and Mongolia are reluctant to make investments due to the economic sanctions and other sanctions surrounding the nuclear issue.  Nonetheless, North Korean mediation law is more effective than one might expect and recently a foreign company received a favorable ruling against a North Korean company. Hay also observed that sanctions are not significantly affecting the North Korean regime and in fact, have an adverse impact on the foreign companies investing in North Korea.

“Improving Healthcare for Children in North Korea: Implementing Cerebral Palsy Treatment in the DPRK”
Dr. Stephen Yoon, Co-Director and Professor, Kim Il Sung University Pyongyang Medical College

On Novermber 23, 2015, the Center hosted Dr. Stephen Yoon, the first foreign doctor to receive a Ph.D. from Kim Il Sung University Pyongyang Medical College. He conducts research, trains doctors, and treats children with cerebral palsy. Yoon’s successful treatment of children with cerebral palsy in the northeast region of North Korea brought him to the attention of the North Korean government, who invited him to Pyongyang to establish a Spine Research Center at Kim Il Sung University Pyongyang Medical College.  His work helped prompt the government to recognize that cerebral palsy exists in North Korea and to allow for treatment, giving children hope for productive and fulfilling lives.

See photos from the event.

“Engaging North Korea Through Economic Incentives: The Kaesong Industrial Park”
Dr. Chang-Seok Yang, Auditor, Kaesong Industrial District Foundation

On December 2, 2015, the Center hosted Dr. Chang-Seok Yang, who spoke about the Kaesong Industrial Park, a joint economic venture between South Korea and North Korea. In the KIP, more than 120 South Korean companies employ approximately 53,000 North Korean workers in a variety of industries, giving South Korean companies access to skilled, affordable labor and North Korea access to much needed foreign currency.  Yang placed the KIP in the historical context of other South-North Korean cooperative endeavors and spoke about how working in the Industrial Park qualitatively changes the quality of life for North Korean workers. 

See photos from the event.