Understanding North Korea 

For years, East Bay activists have been trying to influence US policy toward North Korea. Finally, Washington may be listening.

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Highlighting these facts could go a long way toward changing public perception about the situation. And yet, there is little funding to support such issues. "Even in progressive circles there's a tremendous amount of concern about whether or not it makes any sense to support North Korea at all," acknowledged Liem. "From the left to the right, it's really difficult to convince somebody to pour money into an issue like this."

Still, though perceptions vary, many feel that the situation between North Korea and the United States is now hopeful than it's ever been. The United States said it's willing to engage in bilateral talks with North Korea if that leads to resuming six-party talks, which North Korea quit some months ago. This time, Ahn believes things will be different — even though she says that the South Korean embassy also tried to preempt their recent Washington visit. "I do think that he genuinely wants diplomacy as the course of action," she said about President Obama. "The challenge is will the hawks, even among the Democrats, impede him. But I do think that John Kerry, being the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations [Committee], and Frank Januzzi, very affable, very reasonable pragmatic person. From his perspective, he's like, 'Yes, we'll never know, but unless we try, we'll never know.'"

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