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‘North Korea tends to engender strong reactions both in the west and particularly in the case of Japan, in the east. Meanwhile South Korea has lived with the tensions and uncertainties of the border for many years.

As a closed society strictly controlled by an authoritarian leader and implicated in human rights abuses there is much to be concerned about both inside and outside North Korea.

The recent nuclear testing has heightened tensions around the world and given further cause for concern.

What are we to make of the threats followed by commitment to reduce nuclear tension amid meetings with South Korea. China and possibly America? What might the future hold for the people of North Korea and its neighbours?

How do we understand North Korea?

Adam Cathcart is a lecturer in the School of History at the University of Leeds. He lectures on Chinese History and is an expert on North Korea. He edits the European Journal of Korean Studies (formerly known as British Association of Korean Studies Papers).