Robert Carlin

Headshot in front of a bookcaseNon-Resident Scholar
Expert on North Korean economic, political, and military issues

[email protected]


Robert Carlin has been closely following North Korea from various perches since 1974. He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1971, then went on to the State Department where, from 1989-2002, he was chief of Northeast Asia in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. From 1993-2002, he was also the senior advisor to US negotiators in numerous sets of talks with North Korea.

From 2002-2006, Carlin was a political advisor at the ill-fated Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the multinational organization charged under the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework with building two nuclear reactors in North Korea. From 2006-2022 he was a consultant at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). For many years he has also been a consultant for CBS News.

Over the years and in various capacities, Carlin visited North Korea many times. In 2013, he updated and revised Don Oberdorfer’s indispensable contemporary history, The Two Koreas.


  • 1971—MA, Harvard University, East Asian Regional Studies
  • 1969—BA, Political Science, Claremont Men’s College
  • 1968—Intensive Chinese, Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies