The Pacific, and Challenges Facing American Nonprofits

Paved With Good Intentions: The NGO Experience in North Korea

The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 6, Issue 2, February 2004

Edited by L. Gordon Flake and Scott Snyder

The focus here is not on North Korean NGOs, but on foreign NGOs that operate in North Korea. For these organizations, writes Scott Snyder, “the learning curve … has been steep, and the lessons have been stark…. North Korea has provided a working environment and set of challenges unlike any other the international humanitarian relief community has faced.” Snyder is the Asia Foundation’s representative in Seoul; his coeditor, L. Gordon Flake, is executive director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. Their book assesses the role of European, American, and South Korean NGOs in North Korea, and the many hindrances they have faced. In the concluding chapter, Snyder predicts that North Korea’s interference with humanitarian NGOs may ultimately prove counterproductive: “The more deeply disaffected the NGO community becomes as a result of constraints imposed on its ability to do good through its work, the stronger the momentum for NGO-led external public criticism of North Korea will become. Foreign governments will respond by minimizing the very assistance without which the North Korean regime can no longer survive.”