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The Korea Now Podcast

Jun 14, 2020

This episode of the Korea Now podcast features an interview that Jed Lea-Henry conducted with Ben Young. They speak about the 1976 Axe Murder Incident inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the geopolitical context in which this happened, the history of conflict between America and North Korea, the 1968 capture of the USS Pueblo, how the cutting down of a tree inside the Joint Security Area (JSA) sparked the murders, the crisis that this created on both sides of the border, the very real risk at the time of this developing into nuclear war, the subsequent deployment of Operation Paul Bunyan to finally remove the tree, the important role that emotions played in this incident as well as the responses from both sides, the similarities with the 1994 nuclear crisis, how emotional politics and decision-making still affects the relationship between the two countries, and how all of this manifests in the figure of Donald Trump and his Presidency.

Benjamin R. Young is an Assistant Professor at Dakota State University, was recently a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S Naval War College, as well as a CSIS NextGen Korea Scholar. Ben achieved his PhD in Asian history at George Washington University, with a dissertation focussed on North Korea’s global outreach and international diplomacy during the Cold War. He has been a Fulbright junior researcher in Seoul, South Korea, and his work has been published in The Washington Post, The Guardian, Reuters, and NKnews. His book, due out next year (2021) with Stanford University Press is titled: Guns, Guerillas & the Great Leader: North Korea and the Third World. Pertinent to this podcast, Ben is also the author of: Fire and Fury: The Role of Anger and Fear in U.S.–North Korea Relations, 1968–1994 (

*** The link to the previous podcast with Ben Young on North Korea’s Cold War alliances and outreach to the third world is available here:

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