5 Top Reads

Our Top Weekend Reads

North Korea is on the verge of an economic collapse, Czech-Russian relations are hitting a low point, and Russia is planning to exploit the crisis to interfere in the U.S. election.

Employees of the Ryo Won Footwear Factory working on a production line.
Employees of the Ryo Won Footwear Factory working on a production line in Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 12, 2018. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated North Korea’s economy, but the country’s isolation from the global economic system means it’s largely left to its own devices.

Meanwhile, a dispute over the removal of a Soviet statue in Prague has soured relations between the Czech Republic and Russia.

And the pandemic has opened new opportunities for foreign actors, including Russia, to interfere in the U.S. election.

Here are Foreign Policy’s top weekend reads.


Customers look at makeup products in a store attached to a cosmetics factory in Pyongyang on July 28, 2018.

Customers look at makeup products in a store attached to a cosmetics factory in Pyongyang, North Korea, on July 28, 2018. Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

1. The Coronavirus Has Pushed North Korea’s Economy to the Edge

The pandemic has hit the North Korean economy hard, highlighting the country’s financial weakness, which stems from its decadeslong self-imposed isolation and more recent international sanctions, Thomas Byrne writes.


Workers load a statue of the controversial Soviet army marshal Ivan Konev onto a truck after it was removed from a Prague park on April 3.

Workers load a statue of the controversial Soviet army marshal Ivan Konev onto a truck after it was removed from a Prague park on April 3. Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

2. As Putin Seeks to Reinvent History, Russia-Czech Relations Hit a New Low

A decision by officials in Prague to remove a statue of a Soviet army marshal last fall has evolved into the worst diplomatic row between the Czech Republic and Russia since the end of the Cold War, Foreign Policy’s Amy Mackinnon writes.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about data leaks and Russian disinformation during a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., on April 10, 2018.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about data leaks and Russian disinformation during a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., on April 10, 2018.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

3. Here We Go Again: Russia Gears Up to Interfere in 2020 Election With Coronavirus Disinformation

Russia was already attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election prior to the coronavirus outbreak, but the pandemic has created a more conducive environment for the spreading of disinformation, Spencer P. Boyer writes.


Cambodians dry fish in a village along the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh in 2019, the year the country faced one of the worst droughts in modern history.

Cambodians dry fish in a village along the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh in 2019, the year the country faced one of the worst droughts in modern history. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP via Getty Image

4. In the Mekong, a Confluence of Calamities

Severe drought exacerbated by upstream hydropower dams has threatened the livelihoods of millions of people in Vietnam’s Mekong River Basin and upriver in Cambodia. The coronavirus pandemic is compounding this situation, Courtney Weatherby and John Lichtefeld write.


"The White House," a digital animation by Jeon Joonho

A man looks at “The White House,” a digital animation by Jeon Joonho from South Korea, at the LACMA in Los Angeles on Aug. 4, 2009. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

5. Terminal Deflation Is Coming

The interventions that the U.S. Federal Reserve has made into the pandemic economy are unprecedentedly vast, but it must continue to take even greater action to prevent an economic disaster, Trevor Jackson writes.

Dan Haverty is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @dan_haverty

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