Erin analyzes alternative diplomacy towards North Korea, including food aid, musical diplomacy and Track II exchanges. Amid major concerns about a severe food shortage in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Erin asserts that significant progress in the area of humanitarian assistance to North Korea occurred in 2008, including the resumption of U.S. food assistance for the first time since 2005. Erin’s analysis explores the worsening food shortage in the DPRK and focuses on developments in U.S. humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, it provides an in-depth look at how the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), U.S. government agencies such as the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and their South Korean and North Korean counterparts are working together to address the shortage, and provides prospects for the continuance of this aid in 2009.
Erin’s analysis also examines the role of cultural exchange and Track II diplomacy in building relations between the two countries. She points to the landmark performance that the New York Philharmonic gave in Pyongyang in February 2008 as a key example. As “musical diplomacy” was a precursor to formal diplomatic relations in the Soviet Union and China, Erin evaluates the role of musical diplomacy in the case of the DPRK. Along similar lines, Erin also examines the role of informal diplomatic efforts or Track II exchanges in U.S.-DPRK relations. She reviews the exchanges that took place in 2008 and the general prospect these meetings have for playing a larger role in impacting formal relations between the United States and North Korea in the future.