North Korea

Peace on the Peninsula?

A panel of experts will explore the origins and implications of Kim Jong-un's recent diplomatic activism from North Korean, US, and Chinese perspectives.

After years of tightening sanctions in response to North Korea’s persistent pursuit of nuclear weapons, Kim Jong-un’s recent diplomatic activism has awakened hopes for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula. This roundtable discussion brings together experts from the University of Sydney and the Lowy Institute to explore the origins and implications of Kim’s recent diplomatic activism from North Korean, US, and Chinese perspectives.

This event was held at the University of Sydney on Tuesday 19 June 2018.


  • Dr Justin Hastings, Associate Professor in International Relations and Comparative Politics and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. He is the author of A Most Enterprising Country: North Korea in the Global Economy (Cornell University Press, 2016).
  • Richard McGregor, an award-winning journalist and author with unrivalled experience reporting on the top-level politics and economies of east Asia, primarily China and Japan. He was the Financial Times bureau chief in Beijing and Shanghai between 2000 and 2009, and headed the Washington office for four years from 2011. Prior to joining the FT, he was the chief political correspondent and China and Japan correspondent for The Australian. His book The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers won numerous awards, including the Asia Society in New York award in 2011 for best book on Asia. His latest book, Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of US Power in the Pacific Century, was described as “shrewd and knowing” by The Wall Street Journal, and a “compelling and impressive” read by The Economist. He was a fellow at the Wilson Center in 2015 and a visiting scholar at the Sigur Center at George Washington University in 2016. He has lectured widely, in the United States and elsewhere, on Chinese politics and Asia.
  • Dr David Smith has a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan and a BA from the University of Sydney. His research examines political relations between states and minorities, with a focus on religion in the US. His book Religious Persecution and Political Order in the United States was published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.
  • James Reilly (chair), Associate Professor in Northeast Asian Politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science (George Washington University 2008) and an M.A. in East Asia Area Studies (University of Washington 1999), was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Oxford (2008-09), and a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy (2015-16). He also served as the East Asia Representative of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in China from 2001-2008. He is the author of Strong Society, Smart State: The Rise of Public Opinion in China’s Japan Policy (Columbia University Press, 2012), and the co-editor of Australia and China at 40 (UNSW Press, 2012). His articles have appeared in numerous edited volumes and academic journals.

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