All Issue Briefs
For over twenty years, North Korea has periodically attempted to bolster its economy through the creation of Special Economic Zones. North Korea’s interest in developing these SEZs has been sporadic, but several recent developments indicate that SEZs are becoming an increasingly important part of the country’s economic planning. This issue brief covers the history and recent developments concerning SEZs in the DPRK. Last updated January 14, 2014.
A short historical overview of relations between South and North Korea. Last updated January 7, 2013.
Since 1994, the detention of U.S. citizens in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has periodically been an issue in U.S.-DPRK relations. This issue brief seeks to depict the circumstances of each individual’s arrest, the length of their detention, the type of sentence they were given (if any), and the conditions that led to their release. Last updated September 18, 2013.
Contains information on key personnel dealing with North Korea, nonproliferation, and related issues from agencies including the State Department, Defense Department, and National Security Council. Last updated June 13, 2013.
In the months following North Korea's third nuclear test, tensions on the Korean Peninsula soared to extremely high levels, with North Korea threatening to launch nuclear strikes, the U.S. making mock bombing runs with nuclear-capable bombers, and the Inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex shutting down. This timeline surveys some of the major statements and actions made by the two Koreas, the U.S., and other countries as the crisis escalated.
Since the mid-1990s, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme missions to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have conducted annual crop and food assessments in North Korea. This issue brief excerpts FAO/WFP Assessment sections addressing the role of procurement, incentives, and markets in North Korea over the span of its work in the country in order to provide a window into how the UN organizations’ latitude to comment on North Korean government policies has changed over time. It also includes the Assessments’ commentary on North Korea’s Public Distribution System, and the levels of access the FAO/WFP were allowed in assessing crop production and household needs. Last updated April 19, 2013
This issue brief includes a listing of South Korean NGOs that have conducted humanitarian programs in the North, as well as a brief review of their activities since the Sunshine era.
This issue brief examines the history and current status of North Korea's ballistic missile program, including a review of bilateral U.S.-DPRK missile negotiations and international responses to North Korea's missile tests. Last updated May 7, 2013.
This issue brief includes brief descriptions of North Korea's various ballistic missiles, including their testing history, military capabilities, and deployment status. Last updated April 4, 2013.
A chart of the chairs and ranking members of Congressional committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over policy issues relevant to North Korea.
Brief overview of the U.S. efforts to repatriate and identify the remains of service personnel who remained unaccounted for after the Korean War. Last updated July 3, 2012.
This NCNK Issue Brief lists those countries with which the DPRK has diplomatic relations and provides a brief overview of periods of DPRK diplomatic outreach. Last updated June 11, 2012.
A brief overview of key events in DPRK-Japan Relations. Last updated December 1, 2011
A summary of the history and politics of the Northern Limit Line, the disputed maritime boundary between the two Koreas. Last updated September 29, 2011
An overview of US-DPRK relations, with a focus on recent security and non-proliferation issues. Last updated August 18, 2011.
An overview of US intelligence and unofficial analysis of the DPRK's nuclear programs and directs the reader to more comprehensive resources. Last updated August 8, 2011.
This NCNK Issue Brief reviews the history of the adoption UNSCR 1874, comparing it with UNSCR 1718. It also discusses implementation, referring to the Expert Panel Reports for 2010 and 2011.
This issue brief provides information on UNSCR 1718, adopted October 2006.
This NCNK Issue Brief gives a snapshot of key economic indicators and trade statistics for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Because the DPRK provides insufficient primary data, statics must be generated through “mirror statics.” However, not all statistics are created equal: the assumptions, methods and sources used vary from one data provider to another. In 2009, Dr. Mika Marumoto authored a report for the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Economic Statistics Project,” a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute of the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. The Statics Project Report is intended as a “user’s guide;” this NCNK Issue Brief was created with the report’s recommendations in mind. Last updated December 21, 2009.
This NCNK Issue Brief gives a brief overview of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) 'bunker buster,' which is being developed for the purpose of putting 'hard and deeply buried targets (HDBT) 'at risk.' Research on MOP, a conventional weapon, was funded when research and development of the 'Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator' met with congressional resistance in 2004. In 2009, development of MOP was accelerated. DPRK HDBT were named as a possible target of the RNEP and are assumed to be a target of the MOP as well. This issue brief was last updated December 14, 2009.