Choson Exchange didn't exist when Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, but we've been around for the others. It looks like 2017 is going to be tough.
Each test and subsequent round of sanctions makes the environment a little bit tougher for us, though with a very light in-country presence, we haven't had some of the complications that resident NGOs face. We don't, for example, have to bring bags and bags of cash like the European or UN organizations with offices in Pyongyang now do. Nor do we facilitate international transactions that might raise eyebrows. Logistically, the effects are minor.
The impact on CE is one of broad nervousness.
We depend on volunteers for their time and expertise to make programs work. With each nuclear test and subsequent round of sanctions more people in our pool of potential volunteers get worried about "the situation" and decide not to come or to apply. The periodic in-country detentions contribute to this sentiment, too. (We should be clear that we've run programs during "semi-states of war" before and its been fine.)
Then on the donor side, we increasingly see donors pull back, too worried about the political mood in the international community to support programs. This is especially true this year in the wake UN Security Council Resolution 2270 and additional US sanctions being put on the DPRK. Given the stronger response from the world community after the 4th nuclear test in January, grant giving organizations wonder if, politically speaking, donating to a North Korea-related non-profit is a good idea. Exercising caution, we've seen multiple donors decide to wait and see.
We sometimes wonder what it would be like if we'd operated during the sunshine years. Must've been nice.