Why Stay Engaged with a State Deemed Fragile? The Case of Sweden toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Research output: Working paper


Based on the constructivist international relations (IR) approach, the authors study Sweden’s engagement with the DPRK as a unique case to understand motivations for engaging in a so-called fragile state. Besides having its embassy in Pyongyang and serving as a protecting power for the U.S., Sweden has provided capacity building programs for North Korean government officials and scholars. It has also made a consistent commitment to aid and human rights advocacy. In a nutshell, Sweden has been a facilitator between the DPRK and the outside world. Its motivations are mixed and multiple,including the expectation of gains, the convenience of repeating the work and the logic of appropriateness.

This case expands our understanding of engagement that is often understood to a great degree as a rationalist affair between the engaging and target states. It also affirms the usefulness of constructivist IR approach in accounting for today’s engagement practices involving more stakeholders and less strict cost-benefit calculation.


  • Magnus Andersson
  • Jinsun Bae
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Social Sciences


  • Sweden, DPRK, engagement, foreign policy, constructivism, fragile state, capacity building, human rights, Pyongyang embassy, protecting power.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCentre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)978-91-980900-0-0
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameWorking Papers in Contemporary Asian Studies
ISSN (Print)1652-4128

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