The North Korean famine and inter-Korean relations - Disaster diplomacy perspective

Shay Yeger, Guy Podoler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we analyze government-level inter-Korean disaster diplomacy in order to assess the impact of the North Korean famine (1994–1998) on inter-Korean relations. By considering disasters as political shocks, we explore how the dynamics of change unfolded over time and, accordingly, whether or not the North Korean famine marked a moment of profound political change in South Korea-North Korea relations. Our study examines disaster aid as a diplomatic instrument both historically and politically, offering the first comprehensive analysis of inter-Korean disaster diplomacy. Based on a qualitative analysis of South Korean aid policies and North Korea's responses between 1995 and 2010, it is argued that despite the North Korean famine triggering a momentary rapprochement, inter-Korean relations have not changed much over the long term. Instead of focusing on spontaneously occurring calamities, such as earthquakes or tsunamis, this study presents the first examination of the long-term implications of a slow-onset, prolonged disaster: famine. By this, we contribute an underexplored perspective to disaster diplomacy literature and a new angle on the research of inter-Korean relations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103189
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Disaster diplomacy
  • Disaster politics
  • Foreign aid
  • Inter-Korean diplomacy
  • Inter-Korean relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Safety Research
  • Geology


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