Robert Carlin

Robert Carlin

Robert Carlin Biography & Books

Speaker Biography:

Robert Carlin has followed North Korea since 1974, first as an analyst in the Central Intelligence Agency and later as the chief of the Northeast Asia Division in the State Department’s intelligence bureau.  He is considered by many as one of this country’s premier experts on North Korea.

As intelligence adviser in the State Department, Carlin attended virtually all US-DPRK negotiations from 1993-2001, including crucial talks on the nuclear and missile issues.  He also took part in numerous behind the scenes contacts.  He accompanied Secretary of State Madeline Albright to Pyongyang in October 2000.  From 2002-2006, Carlin served as political adviser in the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO), created by the US, ROK, and Japanese governments in 1995 to build two light water nuclear reactors in North Korea.  While in KEDO, he led numerous delegations to the North for negotiations, and he  was on the last ship that withdrew KEDO personnel from the North in January 2006.  From 2006 until the present, Carlin has been a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC).

Over the years, Carlin has made more than 30 trips to North Korea.  In 2010, as part of a small CISAC delegation, Carlin was invited by the North Koreans to view a new nuclear reactor under construction and a large, previously unknown facility for enriching uranium — both potentially part of a nuclear weapons program.  He continues to meet frequently with North Korean officials and to write on Korean issues, appearing frequently on news programs.

In 2013, Carlin revised and updated THE TWO KOREAS, a highly respected contemporary history of the Korean peninsula.  Carlin received his MA. from Harvard University in 1971, and his BA from Claremont Men’s College in 1969.

Carlin is a regular contributor to the blog which concentrates on North Korean developments and cited often in the press.

Further Reading:

Author's page at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University


THE TWO KOREAS brings to life the events, leaders, and decisions of the last 20 years.

-Library Journal

,,,a fine overview of Korea's recent past...


Quotes from Speaker:

Sometimes what we "know" about North Korea leads us away from what we need to learn. from

In many respects, we are more isolated from the North Koreans than they are from the rest of the world. from


  • THE TWO KOREAS: A Contemporary History - Revised and Updated - by Don Oberdorfer & Robert Carlin (Basic Books/Perseus)
  • NORTH KOREAN REFORM: Politics, Economics and Security, with Joel Wit (Routledge)

Speaking Topics:

  • Robert Carlin can speak on current events on the Korean Peninsula, with a focus on US-North Korean and inter-Korean relations. He can also speak on internal developments in North Korea, as well as the checkered history of US policy toward North Korea, the experience of negotiating with the North, and shortcomings in intelligence analysis of North Korea.

Speaking History: (partial)

  • Harvard University
  • Columbia University
  • Stanford University
  • Boston College
  • Wellesly College
  • University of Washington
  • Yonsei University (Seoul)
  • Harry S. Truman Library
  • US Air Force Global Strike Command
  • U.S. State Department
  • Foreign Service Institute
  • Korea Society (New York)
  • Asia Society (Seoul)
  • The Commonwealth Club (San Francisco)
  • 2014 Conference on Nonproliferation (Moscow)
  • International Institute for Strategic Studies (London)
  • Chatham House (London)
  • The Woodrow Wilson Center (Washington DC)