The CSIS Korea Chair presents the “The Capital Cable” series live on YouTube, a new breaking news analysis program. With a new episode every two weeks, The Capital Cable provides cutting edge expert analysis of events on the Korean peninsula and how it impacts the U.S. and Asia. Hosted by former U.S. ambassador to Korea for President Barack Obama Mark Lippert and with regular participants Victor Cha and Sue Terry, The Capital Cable features special guests every episode from the US and Korean governments, experts, and opinion leaders. Archived episodes can be found here.
The Capital Cable is made possible by the generous support of Kia Motors and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In 2019, the CSIS Korea Chair celebrated its tenth anniversary as the premier independent platform in Washington for the advancement of major policy issues of common importance to the people of the Republic of Korea and the United States. Korea occupies a central place in U.S. strategy in Asia and plays a critical role in shaping peace and stability in the world's most prosperous and growing region.
Through nonpartisan, expert analysis of ongoing policy opportunities and security challenges facing the region, the CSIS Korea Chair promotes a greater understanding of relations between the United States, Korea, and Asia.
The CSIS Korea Chair conducts independent policy research on multiple issue-areas ranging from security to business to cybersecurity to global health. The Chair convenes public and private sector stakeholders for in-depth discussions and policy research.
CSIS appointed Dr. Victor Cha, former White House official and Georgetown University professor as the inaugural chair holder in 2009.
To celebrate its tenth anniversary, the Korea Chair will engage in new, cutting edge projects that will push the bounds of policy research on Korea, including satellite imagery, microsurveys, and big data/predictive analytics.
South Korea would benefit from joining a Quad+
In a new Korea Chair Platform, Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo, the KF-VUB Korea Chair at the Brussels School of Governance presents the case for South Korea to join an expanded Quad+, and how joining it would strengthen the role of South Korea in regional and global affairs, potentially helping provide extra support for Seoul to achieve its foreign policy goals.
Covid helped isolate North Korea in a way sanctions never could. So what happens now?
In an op-ed for NBC News THINK, Dr. Victor Cha discuss how Covid-19 has isolated North Korea even more than any sanctions regime, and how the regime’s actions has enhanced conditions that could accelerate its reaching a breaking point while also cutting off its usual sources of aid.
North Korea could become one of Biden’s biggest challenges — and not just because of its nukes
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Dr. Victor Cha argues that North Korea will likely be one of the biggest challenge for President Biden, not just because of its missile and nuclear program, but also due to a potentially catastrophic mix of covid-19, nuclear weapons and a collapsing North Korean economy.
Number of North Korean Defectors Drops to Lowest Level in Two Decades
In a new CSIS commentary, Amb. Robert King explains how the number of North Korean defectors resettling in South Korea might have dropped to the lowest in 20 years in 2020.
A Self-Defeating Policy
In a new op-ed for The Chosun Ilbo, Dr. Victor Cha wrote about recent legislation passed by South Korea’s National Assembly regarding North Korean human rights. He sees the balloon launch ban as part of a broader effort by the government to rollback North Korean human rights activities, and believes the government’s attempt to silence South Korean civilian support for a better life for their brethren in the North is a self-defeating policy.
Denuclearizing North Korea: Six Options for Biden
In a commentary for War On the Rocks, Dr. Victor Cha outlined six options for president-elect Joe Biden on denuclearizing North Korea once he comes into office in January 2021.
JoongAng Ilbo-CSIS Forum 2020: Morning in America
To discuss the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and its impact on the trajectory of U.S.–ROK relations, scholars, experts, and officials convened on December 14 for the tenth annual JoongAng Ilbo-CSIS Forum. Panels assessed the implications of the new administration’s policies on core issues of the U.S.–ROK alliance, including inter-Korean relations, diplomacy, chartering the path forward on North Korea, and navigating the new strategic landscape with China.
A North Korean Human Rights Agenda for the Biden Administration
In a new CSIS Commentary, Amb. Robert King, the special envoy for North Korea human rights issues 2009-2017, offers advice on a North Korean human rights agenda for the new Biden administration.
Engaging North Korea Anew
In a new Foreign Affairs op-ed, Dr. Victor Cha discusses what a North Korea strategy for an incoming Biden administration could look like.
Leading by example: Two different responses to China’s rise
In an op-ed for The Interpreter at The Lowy Institute, Dr. Victor Cha wrote about the different responses by South Korea and Australia to a rising China, and how in a new era of U.S.-China strategic competition, there is emerging a set of binary-choice policy issues where the “hedge space” for US allies has diminished considerably.
2020 CSIS-KNDA ROK-U.S. Bilateral Alliance Dialogue
On November 9-10, CSIS and the Korea National Diplomatic Academy held an annual virtual workshop of the ROK-U.S. Bilateral Alliance Dialogue. The off-the-record, track 1.5 workshop featured leading experts and government officials from the U.S. and the Republic of Korea for special discussions on the topics of U.S.-China competition and the North Korea question going forward under a new Biden administration.
We Must Prevent North Korea from Testing Multiple Reentry Vehicles
In a new piece published on Beyond Parallel, Markus V. Garlauskas offers a commentary on the status and risks of North Korea’s strategic weapons systems, including a North Korean multiple nuclear-capable reentry vehicle (RV) capability.
Abuse of Women Detained in North Korea Given Special Attention by United Nations
In this Korea Chair Platform, Ambassador Robert King explores the special attention given by the United Nations to the issue of abuse of detained women by the North Korean government. He explains how the issue will be brought up in the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly devoted to North Korean human rights issues. He also explains how this is part of an ongoing international effort to document North Korean human rights abuses, citing the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry report, the UN Human Rights Council and the OHCHR office in Seoul.
Assessing the Direction of South Korea-Japan Relations in a New Era
In this new Korea Public Square, two leading Japan experts, Dr. Michael Green of CSIS, and Dr. Cheol Hee Park of Seoul National University assessed South Korea-Japan relations as Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga starts his first term in office.
South Korea Minimized the Damage from Covid-19. North Korea Maximized It.
How have South Korea and North Korea responded to the COVID-19 pandemic? CSIS Sue Mi Terry takes a deep dive at their vastly approach to the novel coronavirus, and what that have meant for their economies.
North Korean Provocations Likely Around U.S. Presidential Election
Beyond Parallel conducted a new study looking at whether there are patterns to North Korean behavior around U.S. elections. Is there truth to the narrative often found in the media and expert analysis that the North uses provocations to capture the attention of the United States? If so, do the North Koreans have something in the works for the U.S. presidential election on November 3, 2020?
Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant (Nam-chon Chemical Complex): Infrastructure Development and Status
The Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant represents a critical component of North Korea’s nuclear research and weapons development programs. Through analysis of 100+ medium- and high-resolution declassified and commercial satellite images, this report aims to provide a new and unique look into the facility. It is also the second publication in a series analyzing North Korea’s uranium concentrate plants as well as one of the most comprehensive collections of unclassified information and satellite imagery presently available of the Pyongsan facility.
Sinpo South Shipyard Update: New Vehicles Emerge, Still Suggestive of SLBM Test Preparations
A satellite image of the Sinpo South Shipyard acquired on September 9, 2020 — as the remains of typhoon Haishen struck the Korean Peninsula — continues to show activity within, and adjacent to, the secure boat basin. This activity remains suggestive, but not conclusive, of preparations for an upcoming test of a Pukguksong-3 submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from the submersible test stand barge based here.
North Korea's Uranium Plant at Pyongsan
Satellite imagery shows both activity and growth at the Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate plant —indicating North Korea's capacity to grow their nuclear weapons program. This is also the sole known producer of yellowcake that fuels North Korea’s nuclear program. CSIS's Victor Cha and imagery analyst Joe Bermudez explain in newest CSIS “High Resolution” video.
Could a Trump Deal with Kim Jong Un be the October Surprise? John Bolton Seems to Think So
In this op-ed on NBC Think, Dr. Victor Cha explains why he thinks John Bolton’s memoir of his time in the White House presages a path to a potential “October surprise” deal with the rogue nation to burnish President Donald Trump's self-professed deal-making skills ahead of the November elections.
Turmoil at U.S. Agency for Global Media Undermines Information Policy for North Korea
In this Korea Chair Platform, Amb. Robert King explains how turmoil at U.S. Agency for Global Media undermines the critical role that outside information plays for North Korea, especially the broadcasts in Korean from Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.
The Unraveling of the U.S.-South Korean Alliance
In an analysis piece on Foreign Affairs, Dr. Sue Mi Terry discusses how U.S. president Donald Trump has allowed the U.S.-ROK alliance, a cornerstone of U.S. defense strategy in Asia to wither.
Two Years since Singapore: Did Kim Outplay Trump?
Two years after the landmark Singapore summit, CSIS experts Dr. Victor Cha and Dr. Sue Mi Terry assess the accomplishments that have been made, prospects for denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, and where U.S.-North Korea relations might be headed.
Burden-Sharing Talks are Distracting Washington and Seoul from the North Korean Threat
On The Washington Post, Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) and Dr. Victor Cha argues that President Trump should reach a cost-sharing deal with South Korea and work together with our allies on a strategy to face the security challenges posed by North Korea.
After Kim Jong Un
In Foreign Affairs, CSIS Korea Chair Katrin Katz and Victor Cha look at the possibility of Kim Jong Un’s premature death, and argue that it is time to plan for North Korea’s inevitable succession crisis and explain the urgent need for the United States to adopt a regional security strategy for North Korea.
Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility
In a joint baseline analysis with Jane’s Intelligence Review, the Center for Strategic and International Studies surveys a previously undisclosed facility near Pyongyang International Airport in North Korea that is likely related to its expanding ballistic missile development program.
Kim Jong Un Alive and so is North Korea's Missile Program
In this episode, Victor Cha and Joseph Bermudez discuss the reappearance of Kim Jong Un and the breaking news surrounding satellite images CSIS released this week of a previously undisclosed North Korean missile facility.
Splendid Isolation: North Korea and COVID-19
CSIS created a unique dataset chronicling actions taken by North Korea in response to the last two major pandemics, Ebola (2014) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (2015). We then compared these findings with NK Pro’s study of North Korea's behavior during COVID-19.
A Timeline of South Korea’s Response to COVID-19
To document the trajectory of South Korea’s national response efforts against the spread of COVID-19, the CSIS Korea Chair created a timeline of events outlining policies and other measures implemented to date.
What's Happening with South Korea's Pandemic Response
South Korea has largely contained its outbreak of Covid-19 while many other countries struggle to flatten the curve. CSIS's Victor Cha explains the keys to South Korea's success, and explores what lessons the rest of the world can learn. This is what's happening with South Korea's pandemic response.
South Korea Offers a Lesson in Best Practices
In this Foreign Affairs piece, Dr. Victor Cha discusses South Korea’s response to COVID-19, and how their actions offers a lesson in best practices for the United States and other countries in responding to this devastating health crisis.
Regaining Lost Ground in the North Korean Human Rights Movement
In a new report with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, CSIS Victor Cha explains that a deal with North Korea is not possible without an improvement in the human condition. In the past, the United States privileged nuclear negotiations above all else. It became a policy truism to accept that the delicate negotiations would be made too indelicate by raising human rights with Pyongyang. Many negotiators feared that human rights discussions will distract from the main issue of denuclearization or even offend the regime and scuttle the talks. He offers ways in which we can regain lost ground in the North Korean human rights movement.
“Fire and Fury 2?”: Q1 2020 Provocations Reminiscent of Q1 2017
In a new Beyond Parallel post, CSIS Victor Cha and Dana Kim finds that recent provocations by North Korea in early 2020 is reminiscent of the provocations in Q1 2017.
North Korea Policy One Year After Hanoi
Ambassador Robert R. King, senior adviser (Non-resident) and Sue Mi Terry, senior fellow, Korea Chair, testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy on "North Korea Policy One Year After Hanoi."
For Amb. King’s testimony, please read full testimony here.
For Dr. Terry’s testimony, please read full testimony here.
Dr. Sue Mi Terry also filmed a short CSIS "Testify" video, where she explained in 2 minutes the major points and arguments of her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sohae Engine Test Part of Coercive Diplomacy Tactic as End-of-Year Deadline Approaches
What do CSIS Joe Bermudez and Victor Cha think of North Korea’s liquid-fuel rocket engine test at the vertical engine test stand at Sohae Satellite Launching Ground on December 7, 2019? They think it is part of North Korea’s coercive diplomacy tactic as Kim Jong-un’s end-of-year deadline approaches.
Sinpo Update: No Significant Developments
Based on recent satellite imagery of Sinpo South Shipyard reviewed by Joe Bermudez and Victor Cha, there is no evidence that the “newly built submarine” inspected by Kim Jong-un on July 23, 2019 has been launched.
U.S.-South Korea Cost-Sharing Negotiations Impacting Korean Public Support for U.S. Security Umbrella
How do U.S. and ROK citizens view the ongoing SMA negotiations surrounding defense cost-sharing? Predata signals suggest a significant perception gap emerging between the U.S. and South Korea. Victor Cha and Predata analysts discuss the heightened attention and the notable upticks in engagement with anti-U.S. content.
The 66-year alliance between the U.S. and South Korea is in deep trouble
In a Korea Chair Platform, CSIS Trustee Richard Armitage and CSIS Senior Advisor and Korea Chair Victor Cha discusses the troubles the U.S.-ROK alliance face.
Mining North Korea: Magnesite Production at the Taehung Youth Hero Mine
The Taehung Youth Hero Mine, located on the southern hill mass above Puktuilryong (Puktuil Pass), and the Ryongyang Mine are the largest magnesite mines in North Korea and some of the largest in the world. CSIS in conjunction with NGA took a deep dive into this important mine in North Korea.
North Korea’s Strong Hand Against the U.S.
In a Korea Chair Platform, CSIS Korea Chair Senior Fellow Sue Mi Terry discussed the few options the U.S. have with North Korea, and how North Korea now has a strong hand to use against the U.S.
Our keynote speaker was Ambassador John Bolton, the National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump from 2018 to 2019.
Welcoming Remarks by Amb. Hong Seok-Hyun, Chairman of JoongAng Holdings
Keynote Address by Amb. John R. Bolton, the former National Security Advisor
Closing Keynote Address by The Honorable John C. Rood, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
North Korea’s Strong Hand Against the U.S.
In this Korea Chair Platform, Dr. Sue Mi Terry, Senior Fellow at the Korea Chair, argued that Kim Jong-un has been negotiating with the United States from a position of strength, and that he ultimately has no intention of denuclearizing North Korea.
Soft Diplomacy, Hard Stance
In the newest episode of The Impossible State podcast, Andrew talked with resident North Korea expert Victor Cha, and Dr. Kang Choi, acting president of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies about North Korea’s recent missile launch, South Korea-Japan relations, and more.
Collateral Damage: What U.S.-China Competition Means for Korea
CSIS Korea Chair Dr. Victor Cha explores the impact of U.S.-China competition for South Korea, and explain why caught between its security patron and its giant neighbor, South Koreans increasingly will be forced to choose between the two, and in ways that are detrimental to the longstanding U.S.-ROK alliance. While South Korea’s preferred position has always been to hedge between the U.S. and China, choosing one or the other now is difficult is difficult because of three dilemmas that South Korea face.
Sinpo Update: Significant Concealment Activity after Pukguksong Launch
The October 2, 2019 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test launch of the Pukguksong-3 has raised concerns over the forthcoming launch of North Korea’s first true ballistic missile submarine (SSB). What does CSIS Joe Bermudez, Victor Cha and Dana make of the significant concealment activity seen in a October 9 satellite image of the submersible test stand barge at Sinpo shipyard?
North Korea Fine Tunes its Sea-Based Ballistic Missile Capabilities
On October 2, 2019, North Korea tested what may have been a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from waters northeast of the Wonsan, Kangwon Province area into the sea between Korea and Japan. CSIS Joseph Bermudez, Victor Cha and Dana Kim look at what this means for North Korea’s capabilities.
Undeclared North Korea: The Kumchon-ni Missile Operating Base
In this new Undeclared North Korea report by Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha, CSIS Beyond Parallel looks at the Kumchon-ni missile operating base. This is the first comprehensive public report detailing the development, organization, and threat posed by the Kumchon-ni base, which is tasked with not only strikes against the southern half of Japan, but is also capable of striking all of South Korea, and houses a battalion- or regiment-sized unit equipped with Hwasong-9 (Scud-ER) medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM).
NextGen senior advisors in Korea and members of the business and media communities to discuss their work. They also visited the new Chey Institute for Advanced Studies to learn about their initiatives. Lastly, the scholars spoke at about their research to professors and students at public events held at Korea University and Seoul National University.
view the full video and read the report.
As the Kim-Trump meeting at the DMZ last week suggests a reset in the denuclearization diplomacy after the failed summit in Hanoi, the United States must fashion a new negotiation strategy. Here, Victor Cha of CSIS and Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) offer some ideas for a strategy going forward (originally published in Chosun Ilbo, 2 June 2019).
Victor Cha, senior adviser and Korea Chair for CSIS, testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee On East Asia, The Pacific, And International Cybersecurity Policy on “U.S. Policy Toward North Korea After the Second Summit” on March 26, 2019.
You can also watch a quick recap of his testimony in this new CSIS “Testify” video
As part of the U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars program, our eleven scholars will publish an op-ed as part of the program. These op-eds were workshopped at the Los Angeles Program, with feedback provided by the program chairs and the Senior Advisory Board throughout the program.
Katrin Katz, “When Tokyo and Seoul Fight, a Complacent Washington Loses”, The Diplomat, March 26, 2019.
In this article, Dr. Katz argues that conflicts between South Korea and Japan plays into the hands of North Korea and China, and while U.S.’ mediation this time around may not reap immediate success, the costs of complacency are certain.
In this article, Dr. Kim argues that if Americans lose faith in alternative routes to success, entry to top universities could become as cut-throat as it is in South Korea.
Benjamin Young, “Why the Second Summit Between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un Failed,” History News Network, April 7, 2019. In this article, Dr. Young explains why the Hanoi Summit was a failure whilst urging that the autocratic nature of the Kim regime and human rights issues not to be forgotten, despite the friendlier atmosphere of the U.S. – North Korea relations today.
In the run-up to a second Trump-Kim summit, South Korean diplomatic sources reported on Monday (January 28th) “Seoul and Washington last week confirmed that Pyongyang will scrap its Tongchang-ri [Sohae] missile engine test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts.” As of January 20, 2019, commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility shows that no new dismantling activity has occurred at the vertical engine test stand or rail-mounted processing building since August 2018. CSIS Victor Cha and Joe Bermudez explored in this snapshot what the latest satellite imagery tells us about the potential dismantlement at Sohae.
Though the subject of speculation by open-source researchers for years, new research undertaken by CSIS Beyond Parallel has located 13 of an estimated 20 North Korean missile operating bases that are undeclared by the government. In the 2nd report of our series on these bases, Korea Chair’s Joseph Bermudez, Victor Cha and Lisa Collins explored the Sino-ri Missile Operating Base, which is located 212 kilometers north of the DMZ and houses a regiment-sized unit equipped with Nodong-1 medium-range ballistic missiles in depth.
Dr. Victor Cha appeared on PBS Newshour on January 1, 2019 with Amna Nawaz and Jenny Town to analyze Kim Jong-un’s New Year address. The segment was viewed by U.S. president Donald Trump, who tweeted after the show.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2019
With the December 26 groundbreaking ceremony at the Panmun station on the east side of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, North and South Korea are moving forward with inter-Korean railway cooperation as a key engine for advancing inter-Korean reconciliation and building the infrastructure for eventual unification. Railway re-connection would allow the Korean peninsula to be integrated into a rail network spanning the Eurasian continent through China and Russia. This report is the second in a series of CSIS original reports by Victor Cha, Joseph Bermudez and Marie DuMond on the inter-Korean and Korea-Eurasian railway connections including analysis, satellite imagery, and an overview of technical specifications.
Though the subject of speculation by open-source researchers for years, new research was undertaken by CSIS Beyond Parallel has located 13 of an estimated 20 North Korean missile operating bases that are undeclared by the government. Missile operating bases are not launch facilities. In this new report, Korea Chair’s Joseph Bermudez, Victor Cha and Lisa Collins explored one such missile base in depth, the Sakkanmol Missile Operating Base, one of the closest to the DMZ and Seoul.
The growth of markets is the single most significant socioeconomic development to occur in North Korea over the last 20 years. An understanding of this change is critical for the formulation of North Korea policy, but the underlying issues have been relatively understudied in comparison to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and prospects for denuclearization. In 2017 and 2018, Beyond Parallel launched a pioneering and original data collection project on markets in North Korea to study the changes happening in the country. As featured in “North Korea’s ‘Money Masters’ Hold Keys to Kim’s Economic Revival” by Jonathan Cheng in the Wall Street Journal.
On Monday, October 29 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America's Health Security hosted a screening of its new film, The Gathering Health Storm Inside North Korea, followed by a roundtable discussion with regional experts and providers of humanitarian assistance moderated by film co-director J. Stephen Morrison. Dr. Victor Cha and Dr. Sue Mi Terry both participated in the new film and in the film screening at CSIS.
Since 2016, CSIS has partnered with an organization that has a successful track record of conducting discrete and careful surveys in North Korea. Beyond Parallel has commissioned this organization to administer micro-survey questionnaires in provinces across North Korea. The questionnaires are carried out as natural in-person conversations between those conducting the interviews and the respondents. The individuals administering the questions are carefully trained to avoid asking leading questions or eliciting specific answers so as to protect both the integrity of the interview project and as well as safety of the people involved in the conversation. Explore the results and related commentaries by visiting the project page.