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How to Negotiate Like North Korea

North Korea’s leaders have been threatening the world with nuclear strikes and war for decades now, to the point that the international community has branded the small country as the Boy who Cried Wolf. In fact, world leaders are probably resistant to making peace talks effort with North Korea’s new leader Kim-Jong Un. While Kim-Jong Un’s international relations efforts might seem borderline delusional, in truth he is just partaking in negotiations tactics well-known and understood in North Korea. Everything from shutting down the business district at the border between South and North Korea to creating a map of cities in America. North Korea is supposedly considering to target are examples of North Korea’s negotiation strategies of brinkmanship, playing for time, and punuigi. While it’s doubtful any other world leaders want to take a page out of North Korea’s international mediation plan book, it’s essential for people to understand where North Korea is coming in an effort to move ahead peacefully and to learn to negotiate.

Video: How to Negotiate Like North Korea

Few world leaders have touted North Korea’s international mediation playbook, learn to negotiate successfully by using some of these tactics in business.

Video Transcript

The American public and media often paint North Korea’s 27-year old leader Kim-Jong Un, and his father and grandfather before him, as a spoiled, unstable, and moderately delusional leader who turns a blind eye to the poverty in his country while threatening nuclear war. North Korea’s latest threats even has Secretary of State John Kerry on Asian business trips and the US government attempting negotiations. But here’s the thing about North Korea: they just don’t negotiate like Western countries do. Here are three of North Korea’s unusual negotiation tactics:

  1. Brinkmanship: Brinkmanship is a game of chicken in international negotiations terms. A country will threaten wildly and widely until the opposing country simply backs down. For the last year, North Korea has been announcing missile tests and war threats to countries including America, Japan, South Korea, and more in attempts of pushing the rest of the world to the brink before hopefully backing down and coughing up much needed aid for North Korea.
  2. Playing Time: For almost eight years, the Clinton Administration was in negotiation talks with North Korea. While you could argue America forgoes manners for getting down to business, in truth, North Korea may have stretched out these talks to buy extra time for continuing to manufacture missiles or nuclear weapons before a cutoff date for such production was set.
  3. Punuigi: Punuigi loosely translates to “atmosphere,” and refers to the idea that a friendly and trusting atmosphere must be set before North Korea even considers entering into negotiations. North Korean leaders refuse to move forward with business focused negotiations until they feel 100% satisfied the other country they are speaking with are truly North Korea’s friend and will not do anything to embarrass them. After 9/11, the Bush administration placed North Korea on the Axis of Evil list and the two countries hardly spoke at all from 2004-2005. The U.S. had shamed North Korea therefore the little country opted to just freeze out America with the silent treatment because Punuigi was lost.


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