Why did Kim Jong-un substitute releasing the North Korean Workers' Party Plenary report instead of his traditional New Year's address? As with many things in North Korea, we do not know, forcing us to speculate.
North Korea's extreme rhetoric is worrying people in Northeast Asia. Pyongyang is threatening a presumably violent “Christmas gift” to the United States at the same time that Washington's patience with Pyongyang has worn thin.
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.
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.
Cyber operations have become another tool of statecraft. But have any cyber operations sponsored by Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea met the definition of cyber coercion? If so, how? And what should the United States do to respond?
The rapid deterioration of ties between South Korea and Japan not only undercuts America's Indo-Pacific strategy, it also increases the risks to U.S. allies and partners in the region. Just how consequential is the growing South Korea–Japan tension for U.S. strategy and what is Washington doing to address the issue?
Key U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific have been strengthening their defense ties with regional actors over the past two decades. To what extent is this a response to the perceived threat of a rising, assertive China? And how will these new commitments affect the United States?
RAND analysts developed and hosted a wargame to help young women learn firsthand about national security. It's a lesson in strategy, in the hard realities behind news headlines, but also in agility and resilience. In that, it's not so far removed from the daily life of a teenage girl.
President Trump's second summit with Kim Jong Un prompted voluminous commentary about whether Pyongyang might adopt the “Vietnam model” of economic reform and opening up, known as doi moi. Some version of doi moi is not impossible in North Korea, but it will likely be more difficult than it was in Vietnam and made all the more so by Kim's reluctance to risk losing absolute control.
Denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea may be under time constraints tied to America's next presidential election. This further complicates the task facing U.S. negotiators, who seek to reach a deal that endures beyond 2020.
The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the DMZ may lead to follow-on talks. But the success of future negotiations depends on Kim actually taking action to denuclearize.
Political scientist Ji-Young Lee will be the inaugural holder of the Korea Policy Chair at RAND in September. She will manage a research agenda on Korea's international security relations, mentor Korea studies scholars, and build partnerships with Korean research institutes.