Soo Kim

Photo of Soo Kim
Policy Analyst
Washington Office

Education

M.A. in international relations, Johns Hopkins University; B.A. in French, Yale University; D.I.A. in international affairs, Johns Hopkins University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Overview

Soo Kim is a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation focused on national security and policy issues in the Indo-Pacific, the intelligence community, and U.S. homeland security.

Kim began her career in national security at the Central Intelligence Agency, where she served for seven years as a Korea analyst. She has also done stints at the Department of State and several CIA-led interagency task forces handling the DPRK nuclear and leadership crises. Kim most recently served in the Department of Homeland Security, focusing on strategy conceptualization and implementation and policy support. Kim served as an adjunct professor at American University, teaching courses in East Asian history and politics.

Kim is a member of the CSIS PONI mid-career cadre and a contributor to Nikkei Asia and the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter. She has published numerous commentary articles in leading international relations publications, including The Diplomat, Council on Foreign Relations, The National Interest, and The Hill. Her analysis on Korean Peninsula and Indo-Pacific issues are frequently featured in international media, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, BBC, CNN, NBC, Voice of America, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel News Asia (CNA), Bloomberg, Chosun Ilbo, South China Morning Post, and Donga Ilbo.

Kim received a doctorate in international affairs (DIA) from the Johns Hopkins University SAIS, as well as an MIPP and M.A. from the same institution, and a B.A. in French from Yale University. She has native command of Korean and is capable in French, Russian, and Japanese.

Languages

Korean; French; Russian; Japanese

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Al Jazeera; Arirang News, Korea; BBC News; Big Brother: North Korea’s Forgotten Prince; Bloomberg News; Bloomberg Radio; Bloomberg Television; CBS News; Ch 8, Singapore; Channel News Asia; China Global Television Network; CNA; CNN International Online; CNN, The Situation Room; FOX Business Network Online; Government Matters; KBS Radio; Korea Times Washington DC Edition; NBC Nightly News; Newsy; NKNews.org; Radio Free Asia; The Red Line; tbs eFM 101.3MHz - Seoul, S. Korea; Voice of America

Commentary

  • South Korea

    Will South Korea's New President Reshape Regional Dynamics?

    Yoon Suk-yeol has been elected president of South Korea. With a tall order to fill at home and abroad, the Yoon administration has the potential to reshape South Korea's future and relationships in the region. The path that he carves for Seoul in the coming weeks and months will be watched with keen interest marked by hopes and apprehension by his neighbors.

    Mar 15, 2022

    Nikkei Asia

  • Democracy

    South Korea's Presidential Election: Beyond Mudslinging, What Gives?

    The 2022 South Korean presidential campaign has focused largely on personal attacks and allegations of corruption with little attention being paid to pressing issues facing the nation. The absence of meaningful policy debate and clarity on policy deliverables will continue to leave the South Korean electorate largely uninformed about what may be the most important decision they will make in 2022.

    Jan 3, 2022

    Nikkei Asia

  • North Korea

    North Korea's Nuclear Arsenal and Prospects for Regional Peace

    Nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea have hovered at a standstill since 2019. With the door to diplomacy seemingly closed and North Korea marching forward on weapons development and making threatening statements, what are the prospects for Pyongyang's denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula?

    Dec 16, 2021

    Prospects and Perspectives

  • North Korea

    North Korea's 'Business as Usual' Missile Provocations

    North Korea has revved up its cycle of missile provocations, its go-to method of securing leverage against the United States and South Korea in the on-again off-again nuclear negotiations. How will the United States and South Korea choose to respond?

    Oct 14, 2021

    Korea On Point

  • Nuclear Deterrence

    Can China Be a Real Partner in Bringing North Korea to the Nuclear Negotiating Table?

    The United States remains committed to the goal of denuclearization of North Korea. China is more interested in maintaining a delicate geopolitical balance to counter U.S. influence in the region and in expanding its own reach. Thus, prospects for productive U.S.-China cooperation on the North Korean nuclear threat seem faint at best.

    Jul 14, 2021

    The National Interest

  • South Korea

    Takeaways from the Biden-Moon Summit: Three Observations on China

    North Korea was not the only elephant in the room during the recent U.S.–South Korea summit. In the broader context of U.S. foreign policy priorities and South Korea's geopolitical concerns, China was probably the larger presence.

    Jun 7, 2021

    Nikkei Asia

  • South Korea

    U.S.-ROK Summit: Assessing Moon's Vaccine and Peace Promises

    U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held their first in-person summit in Washington in May. But beyond the formalities, how fruitful was this first sit-down, face-to-face, no-mask meeting for Moon?

    Jun 3, 2021

    Lowy Institute's Interpreter

  • North Korea

    Biden's North Korea Policy Review Is Sparse on Details. Here's One Interpretation

    The Biden administration recently completed its North Korea policy review. Details have been sparse, but based on prior U.S. dealings with the Kims, some informed guesses about Washington's approach towards Pyongyang under the new administration can be had. Here's one.

    May 6, 2021

    Lowy Institute's Interpreter

  • North Korea

    Think the Coronavirus Is Curbing Kim's Atomic Appetite? Think Again

    Coronavirus or not, Kim Jong-un's appetite for nuclear and missile bargaining with the United States remains intact. This likely spells further weapons demonstrations from North Korea, with potentially longer-range missile demonstrations to test Washington's resolve in its nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang.

    Apr 20, 2021

    The National Interest

  • South Korea

    What Does South Korea Herald for the Biden Administration?

    South Korea appears to be running on all cylinders to build relations with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with President Moon Jae-in and his team busy issuing public statements and arranging high-level meetings with key players in the incoming administration. What can the Biden administration expect from South Korea on critical foreign policy issues?

    Dec 4, 2020

    Nikkei Asia

  • Nuclear Disarmament

    North Korea Has Agreed to Denuclearization. Trump Could Try to Make It Happen

    President Trump came into office determined to rein in the North Korean nuclear weapons program, but it has become quite clear that North Korea has no intention of giving it up. How might the United States bring North Korea into compliance with its denuclearization commitments?

    Sep 28, 2020

    The National Interest

  • North Korea

    In North Korea, The U.S. Could Take the Lead

    North Korea is hurting: its economy is stagnant and it is having trouble feeding even its elites because of the UN/U.S. sanctions designed to pressure North Korean toward denuclearization. A combined carrot and stick approach may help overcome some of North Korea's reluctance to negotiate the future of its nuclear weapons program.

    Aug 17, 2020

    The National Interest

  • South Korea

    Moon's North Korea Vision Up in Smoke? Not So Fast…

    Even after North Korea's demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office, it appears that South Korean President Moon Jae-in will continue to prioritize improving inter-Korean relations. What are the implications of this strategy?

    Jul 20, 2020

    Lowy Institute's Interpreter

  • North Korea

    Is North Korea Prepared to End the Korean War?

    The end of the Korean War and peace on the peninsula are no more likely to occur as the result of a peace agreement than has North Korean denuclearization occurred as the result of multiple denuclearization agreements. Ultimately, North Korean objectives matter, and real peace does not appear to be part of those objectives.

    Jun 29, 2020

    The National Interest

  • North Korea

    For the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, It’s the North Korean Regime, Not Kim Jong Un Per Se, That Is the Threat

    Would Kim Jong Un's death improve U.S., South Korean, and Japanese security? Maybe not. North Korea's advancing nuclear and other military capabilities are driving an expanded set of problems, and while Kim's sudden death might constitute a destabilizing factor for the regime, the available evidence suggests the regime itself is the problem.

    Jun 8, 2020

    RealClearDefense

  • North Korea

    North Korea Post–Kim Jong Un Reappearance: Expect Business as Usual in the Hermit Kingdom

    Kim Jong Un's return, while it leaves much to be desired in the way of explanation, should send one message to the international audience: North Korea's fate rests still in the hands of Kim Jong Un. And judging by appearances in recent days, Kim does not appear to intend to change the course of his strategy to reduce tensions with the United States.

    May 19, 2020

    The National Interest

  • North Korea

    North Korea After Kim Jong Un: 'How' Matters More Than 'Who'

    With rumors swirling that Kim Jong Un has suffered a health crisis, some are already asking who might succeed him as leader of North Korea. But who is not the most important question. What will matter more is what the new regime does to establish its legitimacy and how the United States and its allies respond.

    Apr 28, 2020

    Nikkei Asian Review

  • North Korea

    Why We Really Don't Know What Happens If Kim Jong Un Dies

    The potential changes in the North Korean regime pose more questions than they answer. How prepared are observers and keen watchers from the “outside world” for a North Korean contingency? Should there be a power vacuum in Pyongyang, will U.S. policy toward the DPRK remain largely as-is?

    Apr 27, 2020

    The National Interest

  • North Korea

    The Coronavirus and North Korea: Is There a Cure for Kim's Nuclear Blackmail?

    Despite the pandemic, North Korea's recent activities suggest that Kim Jong Un will likely stay the course in his ongoing campaign against the United States and the broader Northeast Asia region.

    Apr 13, 2020

    The National Interest

  • Security Cooperation

    U.S.–South Korea OPCON Transition: The Element of Timing

    As Washington and Seoul continue to examine the feasibility and conditions for wartime operational control transition, decisionmakers will likely face political pressure on timing. It may well be to the advantage of both allies that the determination of the transfer be driven by a hard, thorough diagnosis of military capabilities against emerging threats.

    Apr 2, 2020

    Council on Foreign Relations

  • North Korea

    North Korea Holds Most of the Cards in Nuclear Negotiations with U.S.

    North Korea has been reminding the United States that the window to negotiate a nuclear deal is closing. Pyongyang will likely continue trying to force Washington's hand into a deal that allows North Korea to keep its weapons while still reaping economic and political concessions.

    Dec 20, 2019

    Nikkei

  • Nuclear Deterrence

    U.S. Economic War on China Weakens Nuclear North Korea, Too

    An effective way to bend North Korea toward denuclearization may be exerting consistent and targeted pressure on China. Diminishing Beijing's relevance isn't a cure-all. But it could pierce Kim's illusion of invincibility and place him in a bind to make some concessions.

    Oct 18, 2019

    Nikkei Asian Review

  • North Korea

    One Year After Singapore: The North Korea Problem Is Bigger Than Nukes

    After two summits between the United States and North Korea, and little to show in the way of deliverables on dismantlement, hopes that a third summit may yield a denuclearization deal seem a bit unrealistic. Essentially, there has been no indication of intent on Kim's part to denuclearize. But the North Korea problem is much greater than nukes.

    Jun 17, 2019

    The Hill

Publications