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.

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  • A screen grab from an undated video shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspecting what are said to be nuclear warheads at an undisclosed location, photo by KRT via Reuters

    Commentary

    How Kim's Fears Shape North Korea's Nuclear Agenda

    North Korea has ramped up the frequency and intensity of its provocations, continuing its nuclear weapon–buildup while threatening attacks against South Korea and the United States. Why is Kim Jong-un making such excessive investments in North Korea's nuclear and weapons programs and showing off its capabilities?

    Apr 19, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    20 Years After the Iraq War, China-Russia Ties, Correctional Education: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on reflecting on the Iraq War, the pandemic and prison education, North Korea’s latest threats, and more.

    Mar 24, 2023

  • Photo by KCNA/Pool/Latin America News Agency via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    North Korea Is Forcing U.S. Military Counters

    If the U.S. military shoots down a North Korean ICBM fired in the direction of the United States and its territories, North Korea will regard it as an act of war. Even in the realm of North Korean rhetoric, this is extreme.

    Mar 14, 2023

  • Missiles are displayed during a military parade marking the 75th anniversary of North Korea's army founding in Pyongyang, North Korea, February 8, 2023, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Is North Korea Showing Off Its ICBMs?

    On February 8, North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang to call attention to the strengths of the North's military weapons, including what appeared to be 11 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Can the United States and its allies afford to wait until North Korea has dozens of ICBMs and hundreds of nuclear weapons? Because that is the direction in which Kim says he is moving.

    Feb 15, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    A Potential Russian Attack on NATO, China in the Arctic, Inflation: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how the West might respond in the case of a limited Russian attack on NATO, what China's Arctic ambitions mean to the United States, how inflation affects middle-class households, and more.

    Jan 6, 2023

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conducts a ground test of a high-thrust, solid-fuel engine at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station in Cholsan in North Pyongan Province, North Korea, December 15, 2922, photo by KCNA/Pool/Latin America News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    Standing Up to Kim Jong-un's Divide-and-Conquer Strategy

    Kim Jong-un is frightened by even the current modest flow of information into the North. He may be prepared to reduce his provocations if those threats lead to the further spread of outside information in the North. At the very least, the ROK and the United States could try such efforts.

    Jan 6, 2023

  • Kim Jong-un conducts a ground test of a high-thrust, solid-fuel engine at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station in Cholsan, North Korea, December 16, 2022, photo by KCNA/Pool/Latin America News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    Japanese 'Counterstrike' May Be Good for ROK Security

    Fully coordinated, the South Korean Kill Chain and Japanese counterstrike capability could be more effective in stopping North Korea from causing damage. And they could be more likely to deter Kim Jong-un, as Pyongyang recognizes that its efforts to militarily dominate the ROK are unlikely to succeed.

    Dec 28, 2022

  • Kim Jong -un and his daughter attend a photo session with the scientists, engineers, military officials and others involved in the test-fire of the country's new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile in this undated photo released on November 27, 2022, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korea's Version of 'Take Your Daughter to Work Day'

    With the spotlight having long been fixed on the nuclear issue, the public debut of Kim Jong-un's “most beloved” child seems as though it could be an impeccably timed distraction to keep the international community from focusing on seeking an enduring solution to Pyongyang's rapidly advancing weapons systems.

    Dec 12, 2022

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    Thinking About the Unthinkable: Examining North Korea's Military Threat to China

    Examines North Korea's military threat to China.

    Nov 8, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Putin's Gambits, Xi Jinping, Machine Learning: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Putin's latest “desperate measures” in Ukraine, support for Xi Jinping, whether machine-learning tools can tell if you're lying, and more.

    Oct 21, 2022

  • BTS perform during the 64th Annual Grammy Awards show in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. April 3, 2022, photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could K-Pop Help Deter Kim Jong-un's Provocations?

    The United States and Republic of Korea could be more specific and creative in seeking to deter Kim Jong-un. The global popularity of K-Pop could be part of the strategy.

    Oct 11, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Veterans Health Care, Media Literacy, Sleep Retreats: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the challenges of VA community care, the importance of improving middle schoolers' media literacy skills, tips to improve sleep, and more.

    Sep 9, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Back to School, Vaccinating Kids, Space Security: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the well-being of America's educators, the effort to vaccinate kids and teens, security in outer space, and more.

    Sep 2, 2022

  • Kim Jong-un watches a military parade in Pyongyang to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean People's Revolutionary Army in this image released by KCNA on April 26, 2022, photo by EyePress via Reuters

    Report

    The Risks of North Korean Weapons of Mass Destruction

    In addition to its nuclear weapons, North Korea has amassed chemical, biological, and electromagnetic pulse weapons. It has also created an active cyber hacker force. What can the United States and South Korea do to deter and, if necessary, counter these threats?

    Aug 29, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Homelessness in L.A., Russia's Military Woes, Educator Morale: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on breaking the cycle of incarceration and homelessness, Russia’s ongoing military struggles, NATO expansion, and more.

    Aug 19, 2022

  • A suspected missile is fired, in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 22, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Multimedia

    North Korean Sanctions Evasion

    The United Nations imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of the six nuclear weapons tests that it conducted between 2009 and 2016. In this film, experts discuss the threats posed by North Korean proliferation and the importance of enforcing sanctions.

    Aug 15, 2022

  • South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden arrive for a state dinner at the National Museum of Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, May 21, 2022, photo by Lee Jin-man/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    Yoon Suk-yeol Is Biden's Perfect South Korea Partner

    Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea's conservative new president, has shown that he is in lockstep with U.S. President Joe Biden on foreign policy. During Biden's Indo-Pacific trip in May, their conversations in the security domain suggest Yoon's overlapping tenure with Biden heralds a golden era in the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

    Jul 5, 2022

  • South Korea's new President Kim Dae-jung waves on the grounds of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, February 25, 1998, photo by Str Old/Reuters

    Commentary

    Three Principles for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security

    In his inaugural address in 1998, former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung defined three principles for Korean Peninsula peace and security. How might these principles be adjusted to manage today's changing North Korean threats and the Korean security environment?

    May 20, 2022

  • File photo of Yoon Suk-yeol, who was elected president of South Korea on March 9, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    Will South Korea's New President Reshape Regional Dynamics?

    Yoon Suk-yeol has been elected president of South Korea. With a tall order to fill at home and abroad, the Yoon administration has the potential to reshape South Korea's future and relationships in the region. The path that he carves for Seoul in the coming weeks and months will be watched with keen interest marked by hopes and apprehension by his neighbors.

    Mar 15, 2022