North Korea

Featured

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.

  • People attend a march for peace, prosperity, and reunification of Korea near the Arch of Reunification in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released September 12, 2018 by the Korean Central News Agency

    Report

    Alternative Paths to Korean Unification

    Oct 31, 2018

    There are many ways in which Korean unification could occur or be attempted, and each holds vast uncertainties. What actions could South Korea and the United States take to set the conditions for stable reunification?

  • South Korean soldiers conduct a pass in review during a military parade to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the South Korean-U.S. alliance in Seoul, South Korea, October 1, 2013

    Tool

    Four Problems on the Korean Peninsula

    Jan 11, 2019

    North Korean provocations and threats have created an unstable environment on the Korean Peninsula. The United States and its allies must attend to four interconnected problems. Failure to prepare will increase the chance of miscalculation and constrain options to reduce the likelihood or gravity of future conflicts.

Explore North Korea

  • Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Pakistan Elections

    RAND Pakistan experts Jonah Blank and Seth Jones hosted a news media conference call to discuss the May 2013 Pakistan general elections and their potential effect on U.S.-Pakistan relations. Media Relations Officer Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    May 6, 2013

  • nuclear war game maze

    Commentary

    Thinking Through Options on North Korea

    Obviously it will not always be possible to avoid the use of force and the risk of escalation. But the US and its allies cannot take the possibility of military responses against nuclear regional adversaries off the table without limiting its own strategic options, eroding its influence, and threatening its security.

    May 3, 2013

  • Secretary Kerry Meets With South Korean President Park Geun-hye

    Commentary

    Obama-Park Summit a Critical Opportunity for the US-Korea Alliance

    To preserve and protect the peace and freedom that has seen Asia develop into a third engine of the global economy, the United States and South Korea should take steps to deepen their security cooperation in three areas: bilateral alliance management, defense force modernization, and improved regional diplomatic coordination.

    Apr 18, 2013

  • ROK guards in the DMZ

    Commentary

    A Delicate Deterrence Dance with North Korea

    How does Washington signal tenacity to a pugnacious Pyongyang and demonstrate resolve to a jittery Seoul, all without inadvertently triggering an escalatory spiral?

    Apr 11, 2013

  • Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Escalating Tensions on the Korean Peninsula

    RAND Asia experts Bruce Bennett, Andrew Scobell and David Shlapak hosted a news media conference call to discuss the escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula. Media Relations Officer Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    Apr 9, 2013

  • DPRK Kumsusan Memorial Palace

    Blog

    Korea Tensions Different from Previous 'Normal Crises,' RAND Experts Tell Media

    Three RAND Corporation researchers discussed the regional and global implications of the recent flurry of bluster and provocation emanating from North Korea, during a conference call April 9 with reporters.

    Apr 9, 2013

  • Kim Il-Sung Square, Pyongyang North Korea

    Blog

    In North Korea, Belligerence Precludes Progress

    North Korean belligerence is preventing it from moving toward critical economic reform, says Richard Solomon, a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation and former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

    Apr 3, 2013

  • North Korean soldiers attend a rally celebrating the country's third nuclear test at the Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang, February 14, 2013

    Commentary

    North Korea's Third Nuclear Test: A Sign of Weakness, Not Strength

    The ROK and the United States should take actions to deter subsequent North Korean provocations while punishing the country for its nuclear weapon test. Such actions could convince it that the ROK/U.S. are serious and able to impose high costs, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Feb 15, 2013

  • US Soldier clasps hands with ROK soldier during training exercise

    Journal Article

    The Sixty Years of the Korea-U.S. Security Alliance: Past, Present, and Future

    Because North Korea is a failing state, the ROK and the United States must seek to deter, and, if necessary, defeat a range of North Korean challenges, from provocations to major war.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • North Korean stamp depicting children on a rocket

    Commentary

    North Korean 'Satellite' May Fall from Sky, but That Won't Deter Kim Jong-Un

    Kim Jong-Un's regime has placed outsized import on its missile launches—despite the risk of alienating the international community—to offset the lack of success across a wide range of topics, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Dec 21, 2012

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visits a military unit on an island in the most southwest of Pyongyang in this picture released by KCNA news agency August 18, 2012

    Commentary

    North Korea's Just Getting Started

    While many observers of North Korea have been surprised by the apparently peaceful ascension of Kim Jong-Un, there are reasons to believe that the situation in the North is not so stable, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Dec 12, 2012

  • North Korean postage stamp

    Multimedia

    Deterrence and North Korea

    Senior defense analyst Bruce Bennett discusses why North Korea presents uniquely difficult challenges and suggests new and creative approaches to deterrence.

    Oct 30, 2012

  • News Release

    RAND Stanton Research Fellows Issue New Studies Examining Nuclear Security Issues

    Three Stanton Nuclear Security Fellows at the RAND Corporation—Robert Reardon, Markus Schiller, and David Kearn—have published new research examining nuclear security issues.

    Oct 2, 2012

  • Report

    Characterizing the North Korean Nuclear Missile Threat

    Questions the current common view of the North Korean missile program and seeks to better characterize the North Korean missile threat by comparing the available data on the North Korea missile program against several possible hypotheses.

    Sep 27, 2012

  • aircraft carrier USS George Washington

    Commentary

    Beijing Unflustered by Cool Ties With Seoul

    In light of deeply-rooted policy differences, so clearly on display in China’s treatment of South Korea over the past two years, no amount of tweaking around the margins of policy, inspired by internet polling, is likely to lead to dramatic improvements in the bilateral relationship, writes Scott Warren Harold.

    Aug 20, 2012

  • North Korean soldiers

    Commentary

    North Korean Defense Chief's Retirement Has Hallmarks of Purge

    It is notable that North Korea's Politburo made the Ri announcement, suggesting a rise in power of the party relative to the military. The choice of Ri's successor is also curious, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jul 17, 2012

  • A wargames board game

    Commentary

    Anatomy of a War Game

    War games are especially important as countries prepare to counter adversaries who use asymmetric strategies or weapons, forcing military planners to deal with unfamiliar threats, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 12, 2012

  • News Release

    Book by Noted Expert Proposes a Renaissance of Thought on Nuclear Deterrence for Today's Strategic Environment

    A new book by the late French scholar Thérèse Delpech provides a critical review and update of nuclear deterrence theory, focusing a critical eye on nuclear issues during the Cold War, examining the lessons of past nuclear crises, and outlining ways in which these lessons apply to major nuclear powers and nuclear pretenders today.

    Apr 17, 2012

  • Report

    Book by Noted Expert Proposes a Renaissance of Thought on Nuclear Deterrence for Today's Strategic Environment

    A new book by the late French scholar Thérèse Delpech provides a critical review and update of nuclear deterrence theory, focusing a critical eye on nuclear issues during the Cold War, examining the lessons of past nuclear crises, and outlining ways in which these lessons apply to major nuclear powers and nuclear pretenders today.

    Mar 27, 2012

  • Journal Article

    Deterring North Korea from Using WMD in Future Conflicts and Crises

    The United States and its allies need an effective means to deter North Korea's use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

    Jan 1, 2012