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

    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?

  • 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

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Commentary

    Why This Wasn't Kim's Father's — or Grandfather's — Summit

    This is the third time the United States and North Korea have started down a path toward denuclearization and normalization of relations. The difference now is that Trump and Kim have committed themselves earlier on in the process and more publicly than their predecessors did.

    Jun 13, 2018

  • A woman looks at ribbons bearing messages wishing for the unification of two Koreas that decorate a barbed-wire fence near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, May 24, 2018

    Commentary

    Difficulties Integrating North Korean Defectors Suggest Challenges in Reunifying Korea

    Despite expansive government aid, North Korean defectors in South Korea remain a nation within a nation, co-existent yet separate. If South Korea cannot fully adopt and assimilate 30,805 North Korea defectors, how will South Korea ever embrace roughly 25 million North Koreans in the event of reunification?

    Jun 11, 2018

  • A journalist reads a local newspaper showing an article on the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un near St. Regis hotel in Singapore, June 11, 2018

    Commentary

    Kim-Trump Summit Rife with Opportunity for U.S.

    The growing costs of planning for Korean military contingencies place a burden on U.S. defense resources. If Tuesday's summit becomes a step toward eventual guarantees against aggression, the U.S. could remove a major Korean conflict from the top rungs of its defense planning roster, freeing resources for other worries.

    Jun 11, 2018

  • Report

    Lessons from Others for Future U.S. Army Operations in and Through the Information Environment

    An examination of the evolution of both allied and adversary use of information power, alongside a comparative analysis of capability areas in which these others excel, can guide future U.S. Army force planning.

    Jun 7, 2018

  • Report

    Lessons from Others for Future U.S. Army Operations in and Through the Information Environment: Case Studies

    Twelve detailed case studies examine of the activities and strategic goals of allies, adversaries, and potential adversaries in and through the information environment, highlighting insights for U.S. Army planning.

    Jun 7, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2018, and in Panmunjom, South Korea, April 27, 2018, respectively

    Commentary

    Six Lessons for Today from Past Summits

    To prepare for possible meetings with his North Korean and Russian counterparts, President Trump can learn lessons from decades of high-profile summits between U.S. presidents and Kremlin leaders.

    Jun 5, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) and North Korean official Kim Yong Chol (left) meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the truce village of Panmunjom, North Korea, May 26, 2018

    Commentary

    North Korea Is Not Like Libya

    The prospect of a U.S.-North Korea summit has led to analogies between the present case and that of Libya, which abandoned its longstanding quest to develop nuclear weapons in 2003. But a better precedent would be the 2015 deal that froze Iran's nuclear weapons program.

    Jun 1, 2018

  • Map of the Korean Peninsula and Japan

    Report

    The Korean Peninsula: Three Dangerous Scenarios

    An analysis of three potential security challenges on the Korean Peninsula points to rising threats that will pose significant demands on the U.S. Army. The United States needs to think in new ways about how it should deter North Korea and prepare for a possible conflict on the peninsula.

    May 30, 2018

  • Women walk past a TV broadcasting a news report on the cancelled summit between the U.S. and North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, May 25, 2018

    Commentary

    Canceled Summit Doesn't Spell End to U.S.-North Korea Nuclear Diplomacy

    President Trump canceled his June 12 meeting with Kim Jong-un but left the door open for a future one. Successful diplomacy will require tending and fostering U.S. relations with China, Japan, and South Korea while forging an entirely new relationship with North Korea.

    May 25, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump just before signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    The Strategic Fallout of U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

    President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement. What will happen next? Friction between the United States and its European allies will likely increase, while Iran moves closer to China and Russia. Also, the resentment of a new generation of Iranians toward America is likely to grow.

    May 10, 2018

  • Report

    Strengthening U.S.-ROK Relations in the New Administrations of the United States and South Korea: Findings from an October 2016 RAND Corporation Conference

    This summary outlines presentations and discussions from an October 2016 conference on relations between the United States and the Republic of Korea, with a focus on strengthening regional security and economic relations.

    Apr 27, 2018

  • 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

    What are the chances that a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump 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