Cover: North Korean Conventional Artillery

North Korean Conventional Artillery

A Means to Retaliate, Coerce, Deter, or Terrorize Populations

Published Aug 6, 2020

by D. Sean Barnett, Yvonne K. Crane, Gian Gentile, Timothy M. Bonds, Dan Madden, Katherine Pfrommer

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 20.7 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

North Korea maintains nearly 6,000 artillery systems within range of major South Korean population centers, which it could use to kill many thousands in just an hour, even without resorting to chemical or nuclear weapons. Researchers assessed the magnitude of this threat across five attack scenarios, using estimates of the number of North Korean artillery systems, the population densities of potential target areas, and assumptions about the locations of people at the time of the attacks (outdoors, indoors, and below ground). The strike scenarios assessed were (1) five minutes against a major industrial target, (2) one minute along the DMZ, (3) one minute against downtown Seoul, (4) one hour along the DMZ, and (5) one hour against downtown Seoul. Estimated total casualties from the attacks ranged from about 4,500 to more than 200,000. The authors conclude that because so much harm could be done so quickly, the United States and South Korea should try to avoid military provocation cycles that could lead to these attacks. This document presents a series of visualizations that helps bring into sharp relief the danger posed by this threat, providing a useful tool for defense leaders, policymakers, and the public in understanding this important aspect of the complex situation on the Korean peninsula.

Research conducted by

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, and conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.