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.

  • Hands with South Korean and North Korean flags clasp one another, design by RAND Corporation, images from iStock and Getty Images

    Report

    How to Prepare North Korean Elites for Unification

    Apr 27, 2017

    North Korean propaganda suggests that unification led by the South would be a disaster for Northern elites. Unless the elites are convinced otherwise, peaceful unification may be impossible. What could South Korea do to help them feel better about, or at least less resistant to, unification?

  • USA-CHINA/

    Multimedia

    China and North Korea

    Jun 8, 2017

    Overview of testimony presented by Andrew Scobell before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on June 8, 2017.

Explore North Korea

  • Syrian medical staff take part in a training exercise on how to treat victims of chemical weapons attacks, Gaziantep, Turkey, July 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Are Chemical Weapons Becoming a Tacitly Accepted Weapon of War?

    The international community should consider serious options to hold perpetrators of chemical attacks accountable and stop further attacks. These are not easy choices. But the alternative is accepting that long-held norms are crumbling, and the world is sliding back to a time when inhumane tools of war were common.

    Apr 18, 2018

  • Bruce Bennett discusses North Korea at a March event at RAND's Santa Monica headquarters

    Blog

    Preparing for U.S.-North Korea Talks

    If a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump takes place, what are the chances it will lead to meaningful progress? And what should U.S. leaders be thinking about as they prepare? RAND's Bruce Bennett discusses.

    Apr 5, 2018

  • North Korean defectors living in South Korea hold balloons containing leaflets and CDs denouncing Kim Jong-un near the demilitarized zone north of Seoul, February 16, 2013

    Report

    Options for Flying Contraband into North Korea

    Activist groups in South Korea are seeking improvements in the balloons they use to carry political, religious, and humanitarian materials across the border into North Korea. Balloon delivery techniques have evolved and some have started using hexacopter drones. How effective are these methods?

    Apr 2, 2018

  • American and North Korean flags facing opposite directions

    Multimedia

    Understanding and Shaping the Ongoing Korea Crisis

    In this Events @ RAND podcast, Bruce W. Bennett offers RAND alumni and supporters his analysis of recent developments in North Korea and suggests new strategies for putting pressure on Kim Jong-un at the negotiating table.

    Mar 26, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the crowd during a military parade in Pyongyang, April 15, 2012

    Commentary

    What Will Kim Jong Un Want and What He Might Give

    Verifiable denuclearization is an impossible goal, not just because Kim Jong Un may not agree, but because such a deal couldn't be fully verified if he did. But this doesn't mean there is no deal worth making for America.

    Mar 12, 2018

  • Brochure

    Preparing for Major Challenges to National Security: Arroyo Center 2016-2017

    RAND Arroyo Center prepared this report for the U.S. Army to summarize four major threats to national security -- those represented by Russia, North Korea, the Middle East, and China.

    Mar 2, 2018

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announces North Korea-related sanctions, Washington, D.C., February 23, 2018

    Commentary

    North Korean Sanctions to Make for Interesting U.S.-China Trade Talks

    With one of China's top officials arriving in Washington for trade talks, this might not be the best time to impose additional tariffs on Chinese exports, as the Trump administration has been threatening.

    Feb 28, 2018

  • U.S. Army soldiers load military vehicles onto trains at Camp Carroll in Chilgok, South Korea, during the annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military exercises, March 6, 2012

    Commentary

    Joint Military Exercise Can Be a Bargaining Chip with North Korea

    Since 1976, the United States and South Korea have scheduled large-scale joint military exercises each year. Postponing the exercises this year has led to some signs that North Korea might be open to diplomacy. Delaying the exercises further could lead to direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

    Feb 23, 2018

  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in attend short track speed skating events in Pyeongchang, February 10, 2018

    Commentary

    At Olympics, U.S. and Korean Leaders Revive Familiar Roles

    The current spate of North-South Korean diplomacy could be short-lived, giving way to resumed tensions and mounting fears of war. It seems possible, however, that South Korean President Moon Jae-in will succeed in brokering direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

    Feb 22, 2018

  • Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 9, 2018

    Commentary

    Why the 2018 Winter Olympics Are the Perfect Storm for Cyberattacks

    The Olympic Games could invite the most severe cyber threats to a major sporting event in recent years. The location of the Games and increased connectivity, both among the public and infrastructure, make them a prime target for cyberattacks.

    Feb 12, 2018

  • North Korean cheerleaders await the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 9, 2018

    Commentary

    Countering North Korea's Political Warfare

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has outmaneuvered South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the month leading up to the Olympics. This has dangerous consequences for South Korea's security, democracy, and its alliance with the United States.

    Feb 11, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump applauds in front of Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Paul Ryan during his first State of the Union address in Washington, January 30, 2018

    Blog

    Trump's First State of the Union: Insights from RAND

    RAND research, analysis, and expertise provide context for the issues discussed in the president's first State of the Union address, including infrastructure, North Korea, and opioids.

    Jan 31, 2018

  • Multimedia

    Assessing North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Capabilities and Prioritizing Countermeasures

    International policy analyst John V. Parachini outlines what is known about North Korea's chemical and biological weapons capabilities—and what can be done to mitigate the threats.

    Jan 17, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) speaks to Choe Ryong-hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, Pyongyang, July 27, 2013

    Testimony

    North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Capabilities—and How to Counter Them

    Any conflict on the Korean Peninsula could entail the use of chemical or biological weapons. For this reason, it's important to ensure the attention given to North Korea's nuclear weapons doesn't cause authorities to overlook these threats.

    Jan 17, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the national science centre, in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 12, 2018

    Commentary

    Nothing New from North Korea

    Kim Jong Un's recent proposal for talks with South Korea is by no means unprecedented. And while the overture could somewhat ease tensions in the region, there is no reason to believe that Kim is ready to give up his nuclear arsenal.

    Jan 12, 2018

  • Close up of Korea map thru a magnifying glass

    Announcement

    Gift from the Korea Foundation Establishes Chair in Korea Policy Studies

    The RAND Corporation has received a $750,000 gift from the Korea Foundation to establish a chair in Korea policy studies at RAND, commencing in 2018. The chair will support a senior scholar who will manage a research agenda on Korea's international security, mentor Korea studies scholars, and build partnerships with research institutes in Korea.

    Jan 9, 2018

  • South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a news conference in Seoul, November 7, 2017

    Commentary

    South Korea Picking the Wrong Fight

    Washington may need to encourage Seoul to find ways to cooperate with Tokyo in confronting threats from the region's revisionist actors, rather than picking fights with Japan.

    Jan 7, 2018

  • U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks with Chinese Deputy Ambassador Wu Haitao ahead of the United Nations Security Council session on imposing new sanctions on North Korea, in New York, December 22, 2017

    Commentary

    China's Reluctance on Sanctions Enforcement in North Korea

    It's fair to question whether Beijing intends to fully enforce sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime because such actions tend to undermine China's approach in North Korea. Beijing likely seeks to prevent the collapse of the North Korean regime to ensure that neither a spillover of refugees nor a reunified pro-U.S. Korea emerges on its doorstep.

    Jan 4, 2018

  • Multimedia

    Recommendations for a Future National Defense Strategy

    Drawing from his expertise and war-game experience, David Ochmanek provides recommendations to inform a future national defense strategy. He explains that while U.S. forces are currently misaligned with challenges from the country's greatest adversaries, including China and Russia, gaps can be overcome with investments in existing technology to protect our forward bases; reach into contested areas; and identify, track, and engage enemy forces.

    Nov 30, 2017

  • U.S. soldiers approach their transport plane on Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, September 13, 2017

    Testimony

    Recommendations for a Future National Defense Strategy

    War games and analysis suggest that U.S. forces could lose the next war they are called upon to fight. The nation must invest in new field systems and military capabilities to create a robust defensive posture vis-à-vis China, Russia, and other adversaries.

    Nov 30, 2017