Donald Kirk

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Donald Kirk is a veteran newspaper correspondent who has worked throughout East Asia and in the Middle East.

A Seoul- and Washington-based columnist for Free Press International, he has also written for the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, CBS, Asian Wall Street Journal, National Review, Chicago Sun Times, South China Morning Post and other publications.

A graduate of Princeton University, he was a Fulbright Scholar and winner of the Overseas Press Club’s George Polk Award.

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Coming home to a U.S. in chaos: Trump stands to benefit

FPI / August 13, 2020 By Donald Kirk [Editor’s Note: Far East Correspondent Donald Kirk is back in the United States on leave.] WASHINGTON — The outbreak of protests in cities and even small communities across the U.S. reveals not only the extremes but also the confusion in American life. While the liberal media focuses […]

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Time on China’s side as it encircles major rival India

FPI / July 20, 2020 By Donald Kirk China looms like an enormous bullying giant above its borders with India stretching more than 4,000 kilometers from the high Himalayas to the west to more mountains and lower level frontiers to the east. In between is Nepal, over which China wields increasing influence, and Bhutan, which […]

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Defector values press freedom more than North-South diplomacy

FPI / July 10, 2020 By Donald Kirk SEOUL — The insistence of a pair of brothers on scattering hundreds of thousands of leaflets from balloons fired over North Korea confronts the South with tough questions. Is it worth upsetting North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and his sister, Kim Yo-Jong, knowing the negative effects the […]

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Seoul’s bewildering assault on Samsung could benefit China

FPI / June 16, 2020 By Donald Kirk The Samsung empire’s de facto leader, Jay Y. Lee, is a free man despite the best efforts of Korean government prosecutors to lock him up while he faces yet another trial to keep him from taking over the group as the only son of Lee Kun-Hee, still […]

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North Korea’s Kim: Dead or alive? Flip a coin

FPI / May 13, 2020 By Donald Kirk North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has dodged a bullet, meaning the onslaught of speculation about whether he was dead or alive, ill or just avoiding the coronavirus. It’s amazing how quickly and easily many of us were taken in by the initial report on the Daily NK, […]

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We spend billions on our spy agencies; Where’s Kim Jong-Un?

FPI / April 30, 2020 By Donald Kirk SEOUL — The vanishing act of Kim Jong-Un provokes one inevitable question. With all the billions that the U.S. puts into gathering intelligence by all those “agencies,” why can’t any of them come back with the definitive answer on the state of his health? Just think about […]

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‘Last plane out of Washington’ and welcome to Orwellian future?

FPI / April 19, 2020 By Donald Kirk SEOUL — The phrase has a certain drama, overtones of life-or-death struggle: “The last plane out of” a city under attack, under siege, on the brink of surrender. In my case, it was “the last plane out of Washington,” or, to be precise, the last non-stop flight […]

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U.S. forces in Norfolk: Strange war with invisible enemy

FPI / March 25, 2020 By Donald Kirk NORFOLK, Virginia — America’s mightiest warships, including the carrier John C. Stennis, line up grey and forbidding here at the world’s largest naval base at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. A few gate-keepers, security people, stand guard on the piers, but otherwise almost no one is […]

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Foreign correspondent comes home to a nation shut down

FPI / March 19, 2020 By Donald Kirk WASHINGTON — The mere idea of the nation’s capital more or less shutting down would have been beyond imagination if anybody had talked about it seriously two months ago. Even after the outbreak of coronavirus in China had reached Korea and Europe, very few people would really […]

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North Korea seals off world from its coronavirus secrets

FPI / March 3, 2020 By Donald Kirk In a time of crisis, near-panic, over a disease to which the best medical minds have yet to find a sure cure, total cooperation is essential. The World Health Organization, scientists around the world, anyone who knows anything is duty-bound to try and help. Which brings us […]

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Strong words on China from top U.S. diplomat

FPI / February 18, 2020 By Donald Kirk U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has mounted a broad campaign warning against China’s infiltration of American life from university campuses to American companies, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. At just about every opportunity at which he’s asked to speak or comment, Pompeo accuses the Chinese […]

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Samsung heiress backed Academy Award winner ‘Parasite’

FPI / February 13, 2020 By Donald Kirk In all the outpouring of high praise for the Korean blockbuster Parasite after its dazzling success at the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood, one noteworthy side of the production was largely ignored: the film had the enthusiastic backing of an heiress to the riches of Korea’s biggest […]

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‘Yellow peril’: Return of historic prejudices?

FPI / February 9, 2020 By Donald Kirk The spread of a deadly disease brings out the best and the worst in people. Upside, scientists look for causes and cures for the coronavirus, often coordinating through the World Health Organization, while doctors and nurses work tirelessly to care for the sick in hospitals and clinics. […]

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‘Axis of evil’, 18 years later

FPI / By Donald Kirk A detail generally overlooked in all we’ve been reading about the misfired Iranian missile that brought down the Ukraine airliner with 176 people aboard: It was almost certainly made in North Korea and sold to Iran or made in Iran from a North Korean design and technology. The relationship between […]

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Three reasons Kim Jong-Un is feeling the heat

FPI / January 15, 2020 By Donald Kirk The killing of Qasem Soleimani by an American drone aircraft on orders from U.S. President Donald Trump as the Iranian general arrived in Baghdad to spur on Iran-backed Iraqi militia against the U.S. confronts Kim Jong-Un with serious problems. The first is that North Korea cannot publicize […]

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