North Korea

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North Korea, formerly designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States, emerged as a nuclear-armed enigma under the dictatorship of Kim-Jong Il. RAND’s research on both deterrence and failed states includes expert analysis of the North Korean regime, opportunities for its modernization and democratization, and implications for post–Cold War geopolitics.

  • U.S. soldiers during an exercise on chemical, biological, and radiological warfare near the DMZ

    Testimony

    The Challenge of North Korean Biological Weapons

    Oct 11, 2013

    While there is evidence of North Korean biological weapons, little is known with certainty about them and how North Korea would use them. Bruce Bennett addresses the nature of the potential North Korean biological weapon threat and how the ROK and United States should prepare to counter potential attacks.

Explore North Korea

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    RAND Experts Discuss Extended Absence of Kim Jong-un

    RAND researchers Bruce Bennett and Andrew Scobell hosted a media conference call on Thursday, October 9 to discuss the extended absence of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the regional implications of a sudden change in North Korea's government, and China's role in the region. Media relations officer Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    Oct 9, 2014

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at the October 8 Factory in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang August 31, 2014

    Blog

    What Does North Korea Want?

    Currently, three U.S. citizens — Matthew Todd Miller, Jeffrey Fowle, and Kenneth Bae — are being detained in North Korea. It is likely that North Korea wants someone like a former U.S. president to come to North Korea instead of U.S. Ambassador Bob King, whose visits were cancelled.

    Sep 18, 2014

  • Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers carry parachutes for drop training during a military drill west of Tokyo, July 8, 2013

    Blog

    Why Japan's Military Shift Is Necessary for South Korea

    With its collective self-defense policy, Japan assumes its responsibilities to support the defense of South Korea and regional security in general, an appropriate action given the economic and other independencies of the regional countries.

    Jul 7, 2014

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits an outpost at Mount Osung

    Blog

    North Korea's Latest Military Operations

    Whatever form of chest thumping comes next from Kim, it is clear that his goal is to put forward the appearance of strength and power, when in reality he faces instability at home and scorn from the international community.

    Apr 8, 2014

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un applauds during a meeting of security personnel of the Korean People's Army

    Testimony

    Preparing for the Possibility of a North Korean Collapse

    If the North Korean government were to suddenly collapse, the consequences could jeopardize regional security in Northeast Asia and undermine U.S. interests. Preparation is needed now to convince the North Korean elites and others that South Korea-led unification in the aftermath of a collapse will be in their interests.

    Jan 29, 2014

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a ceremony of awarding party and state commendations to the exemplary officials, captains and fishermen in fisheries of the Korean People's Army

    Blog

    A Death in the Family

    The ruthless purge of 67-year-old Jang Sung Taek appears to be the culmination of a power struggle that makes 30 year-old Kim Jong Un the undisputed supreme leader of North Korea.

    Jan 22, 2014

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the construction site of a ski resort on Masik Pass

    Blog

    Bruce Bennett Discusses North Korea on Reddit.com

    To shed some light on Kim Jong-un's possible motivations—and to discuss what might happen if the North Korean government suddenly collapsed the way East Germany's did—RAND's Bruce Bennett took part in a question and answer session on Reddit.com.

    Nov 14, 2013

  • Kim Jong-un during the celebration of the 65th anniversary of North Korea

    Event

    Preparing for North Korean Regime Collapse

    The North Korean government has shown signs of instability for some time. RAND senior defense analyst Bruce Bennett will discuss the possible consequences of its collapse, including civil war in the North, a humanitarian crisis, the potential use and proliferation of the nation's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and even war with China.

    Oct 16, 2013

  • congressional-podcast-teaser-highres

    Multimedia

    Preparing for North Korean Regime Collapse

    In this October 2013 Congressional Briefing, defense analyst Bruce Bennett discusses the possible consequences of a North Korean government collapse, including civil war in the north; a humanitarian crisis; the potential use and proliferation of the nation's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; and conflict with China.

    Oct 16, 2013

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits a newly built arcade at the amusement house of the Rungna People's Pleasure Park

    Blog

    North Korea's Coming Collapse

    The North Korean government could collapse at any time, setting off a humanitarian disaster of historic proportions, RAND senior defense analyst Bruce Bennett told a gathering of journalists in Washington.

    Sep 20, 2013

  • News Release

    U.S., Republic of Korea and Allies Should Prepare for Eventual Collapse of North Korean Government

    Like the collapse of East Germany, the collapse of North Korea could occur suddenly and with little warning. But a North Korean collapse could be far more dangerous and disastrous than the actual collapse of East Germany, especially given the inadequate preparations for it.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits a newly built arcade at the amusement house of the Rungna People's Pleasure Park

    Report

    U.S., Republic of Korea, and Allies Should Prepare for Eventual Collapse of North Korean Government

    Like the collapse of East Germany, the collapse of North Korea could occur suddenly and with little warning. But a North Korean collapse could be far more dangerous and disastrous than the actual collapse of East Germany, especially given the inadequate preparations for it.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang, March 29, 2013

    Blog

    4 Factors to Consider in US Options for North Korea

    The US, working closely with its allies, should approach each potential conflict with North Korea in its own context, sculpting policy that draws on experience as well as observations made through research, writes Lowell Schwartz.

    Jun 12, 2013

  • East German citizens climb the Berlin wall at the Brandenburg Gate as they celebrate the opening of the border November 10, 1989

    Blog

    North Korea Could Fall Faster Than We Think

    The United States, South Korea and their allies would be well advised to factor in the possibility that North Korea could collapse in a fit of revolt and economic decay at any time, just as East Germany did, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 3, 2013

  • War memorial in Pyongyang, North Korea

    Journal Article

    North Korea: Preparing for the End

    North Korea is now the most dangerous security challenge facing the United States.

    Jun 1, 2013

  • ROK Navy sailors wave U.S. and ROK flags to welcome Los Angeles-class submarine USS Cheyenne to Busan

    Blog

    Enhancing Security Cooperation at the Korea-U.S. Summit

    The U.S.-South Korean Extended Deterrence Policy Committee was setup to deter North Korean threats. The upcoming summit should ratify the progress of this effort, reassuring both the Korean and U.S. people that these threats are being managed.

    May 7, 2013

  • nuclear war game maze

    Blog

    Thinking Through Options on North Korea

    Obviously it will not always be possible to avoid the use of force and the risk of escalation. But the US and its allies cannot take the possibility of military responses against nuclear regional adversaries off the table without limiting its own strategic options, eroding its influence, and threatening its security.

    May 3, 2013

  • Secretary Kerry Meets With South Korean President Park Geun-hye

    Blog

    Obama-Park Summit a Critical Opportunity for the US-Korea Alliance

    To preserve and protect the peace and freedom that has seen Asia develop into a third engine of the global economy, the United States and South Korea should take steps to deepen their security cooperation in three areas: bilateral alliance management, defense force modernization, and improved regional diplomatic coordination.

    Apr 18, 2013

  • ROK guards in the DMZ

    Blog

    A Delicate Deterrence Dance with North Korea

    How does Washington signal tenacity to a pugnacious Pyongyang and demonstrate resolve to a jittery Seoul, all without inadvertently triggering an escalatory spiral?

    Apr 11, 2013