All Issue Briefs
An overview of what is known about North Korea's plutonium and highly-enriched uranium programs, as well as its nuclear tests. Last updated January 2016.
An historical overview of US-DPRK relations, with a focus on recent security and non-proliferation issues. Last updated November 2015.
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 October 2015.
This issue brief examines the history and current status of North Korea's ballistic missile program. Last updated August 2015.
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 August 2015.
A brief overview of the history and current state of DPRK-Japan relations. Last updated June 16, 2015.
A chart of the chairs and ranking members of Congressional committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over policy issues relevant to North Korea.
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 10, 2015.
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.
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.
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
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 Statistics 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.
This time line includes significant events and meetings that have taken place at Mt. Kumgang or regarding the tourism project.
This Issue Brief, last updated November 10, 2009, provides an overview of the Mt. Kumgang Tourism Project. Please see the accompanying time line of significant meetings and events related to the tourism project.
This 4 page issue brief, last updated January 7, 2008, reviews the obligations of the U.S. president regarding the "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report" (INCSR) and the annual Presidential Determinations regarding drug trafficking and production. The INCSR report for 2006 released in March 2007 reported "no confirmed instances of drug trafficking involving North Korea or its nationals during 2006. . . there is no evidence for several years that it continues to traffic in narcotics."
This four page Issue Brief provides an overview of the North Korean-related accounts at Banco Delta Asia. Last updated June 26, 2007.