News & events


Soft, Hard or Smart? North Korea’s Relation to Power

16 May 2017
12:00 - 14:00

Date:     16 May 2017

Time:     12:00 – 14:00

      Video Conference Venues (Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town)

Speaker: Dr. Virginie Grzelczyk (International Relations at Aston University, UK)

North Korea is notable for its political and economic isolation, yet the Korea Central News Agency’s daily editions are filled with articles outlining nations’ admiration for Pyongyang and its leader. What is the nature of these relationships? Do they matter in our understanding and appraisal of North Korea’s foreign policy? Could North Korea be trying to establish itself as a beacon and leader to less developed countries? Could it be that Pyongyang is now actively promoting soft power as an integral part of not only its survival, but its development strategy? While scholarship on North Korea tends to focus on Pyongyang’s high profile’ relations with China or Russia that end of asymmetrical with North Korea being clearly the less powerful nations in the partnerships or with Nations ‘seeking weapons of mass destruction and thus engaging into ‘rogue collusion’, very little attention has indeed been paid to how the DPRK engages in peaceful ways with the world.

This presentation will examine the notion of hard, soft, sticky and smart power by focusing on current DPRK rhetoric and developing partnerships with both states and non-state actors. It suggests that the DPRK has started to pursue a strategy of diplomatic diversification, which includes a more sophisticated understanding of power than previously considered in the literature.

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein  as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Kindly RSVP by  15 May 2017

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or

Durban :  First floor HSRC board room, 750 Mary Thipe Street, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or , or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: