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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Russia’s ties with N. Korea? Kim Jong-Il was born there; His father was a Soviet officer

FPI / May 1, 2019 By Donald Kirk It’s easy to overlook the Russian stake in the Korean Peninsula. We hear so much about China’s pivotal role, its influence over North Korea and its enormous trade with South Korea that we tend to forget the Soviet Union shared responsibility with the U.S. for the artificial […]

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Honoring 304 victims of Sewol ferry tragedy that was weaponized for political ends

FPI / April 20, 2019 By Donald Kirk SEOUL — The sinking of the Sewol ferry five years ago was one of the greatest tragedies in Korean history. The memory for me, along with many others, is especially poignant since I spent hours in the great school gymnasium where families of the 304 victims, most […]

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Reporter in Seoul accused of ‘treason’ for challenging government’s pro-Pyongyang statements

FPI / January 24, 2019 By Donald Kirk President Moon Jae-In almost accidentally stepped into a battle that did not have to happen with journalists for foreign news organizations. The ruckus was all about a Korean reporter for Bloomberg who wrote in September that Moon sounded like a spokesman for Kim Jong-Un by singing the […]

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‘Animal Farm’? George Orwell never imagined this

FPI / March 15, 2019 By Donald Kirk SEOUL — The Demilitarized Zone that’s divided North from South Korea since the Korean War evokes images of the Berlin Wall that divided East from West Berlin from 1961 to 1991 but shows no signs of going down after the second summit between President Donald Trump and […]

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An elite defector’s advice for Trump’s Korea ‘Doctrine’

FPI / February 24, 2019 By Donald Kirk Thae Yong-Ho, the former North Korean deputy chief of mission at their embassy in London, has come up with the term “doctrine” to describe Trump’s policy toward North Korea. He even compares the nascent “Trump doctrine” with the “Nixon doctrine.” That’s bad news. I was following President […]

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Social media manipulation may have swung presidential election in Seoul

FPI / February 18, 2019 By Donald Kirk SEOUL — The ongoing scandal, in which the governor of South Gyeongsang Province, Kim Kyung-Soo — a top ally of President Moon Jae-In, was involved in a computer program that automatically generated millions of “likes” or “dislikes” for polls and postings on individuals and vital topics, may […]

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Asian allies face test of nerves as Trump-Kim summit nears

FPI / February 10, 2019 By Donald Kirk NEW DELHI ― The prospect of President Trump abandoning friends and allies resonates here for reasons that have nothing to do with North or South Korea. While focusing on whatever deal he is likely to cook up with Kim Jong-Un, let us not forget the priorities in […]

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‘Love’, nukes and missile fatigue on the Korean peninsula

FPI / January 24, 2019 By Donald Kirk The revelation of another “undeclared” North Korean missile base should send shock waves through all those concerned about the safety and security of the region, notably South Korea. Actually, however, it’s hard to find ordinary people too worried about the latest report by esteemed experts at the […]

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