The latest North Korean nuclear test was the largest to date, yet the international consensus on a response is as fractured and indecisive as ever. In the days following the test, China announced that it opposed the unilateral sanctions pursued by Japan. The United States is in support of sanctions, ...

The fifth North Korean nuclear test has left policy makers scrambling for both short term and long term solutions to a problem that, so far, has no solution. Many experts have called for a return to a multilateral negotiation framework such as the Six Party Talks. The Cipher Brief spoke ...

The United States and its allies in East Asia have had sound reasons for the current approach to dealing with North Korea.  However, it carries with it a danger exemplified by the latest and largest North Korean nuclear test.  North Korea has been rightly dubbed by many experienced diplomats, the ...

North Korea announced Friday morning that it had successfully conducted its fifth nuclear test at the subterranean Punggye-ri test site. The U.S. geological survey confirmed a 5.3 magnitude earthquake nearby, stating that it was caused by an “explosion.” In an official statement, Pyongyang declared it had tested a "nuclear warhead ...

Yesterday, at 5:30am Pyongyang time, North Korea achieved what, as little as two years ago, many experts thought was impossible: it test launched a missile from a submarine that traveled over 500km. This unexpected success is worrisome for several reasons. Aside from the technical leap forward that the test demonstrates, ...

North Korea is once again taking provocative actions, this time launching two ballistic missiles in which one landed for the first time in Japanese controlled waters.    Last month, North Korea fired three short-range missiles into the sea.    The latest series of tests, which violate UN resolutions, come on the heels ...

North Korea informed the U.S. on July 10th that it would cut off the New York channel of communication to the U.S. Government.  If American policymakers lament their own lack of leverage against North Korea, this move demonstrates the limited options Pyongyang has with which to respond to the July ...

Amid the continuing leitmotif of missile tests, nuclear weapons development, and unwavering anti-South Korean and anti-U.S. rhetoric, North Korea’s cyber activities have once again risen in the order of importance among security and political circles. The latest North Korean cyber-episode was the revelation made by South Korean authorities that North ...

North Korea’s army of 6,000 hackers have been implicated in a multimillion dollar bank heist, the theft of intelligence from finance and defense firms, and the infiltration of infrastructure networks—all in the first six months of 2016. This only adds to the numerous attacks against South Korea – one of ...

If confirmed, North Korea has perpetrated the first state-sponsored digital bank robbery in history.  It shows that North Korea is getting desperate and therefore that sanctions are working but at the same time that the international community must take additional steps to safeguard commerce and trade.  According to the digital ...

North Korea is threatening the Global Community with its reckless nuclear and missile behavior.   They have consistently disregarded U.N. Security Council Resolutions and have made clear, especially to China and the U.S., that they are a nuclear weapons state. The four nuclear tests, the most recent in 2016, have progressively ...

Last week, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. announced they will hold their first-ever joint anti-missile exercise next month, signaling an effort by Korea and Japan to overcome decades of historical tension and work together. The joint exercise, set for June 28, will focus on information exchange and logistics as ...

Two weeks have passed since the close of North Korea’s 7th Workers’ Party Congress and, for the moment, the country’s streak of provocations that kicked off 2016 have abated. On Friday, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released an official statement from the National Defense Commission calling for military talks ...

Following the conclusion of North Korea’s 7th Workers’ Party Congress, many questions remain regarding the future direction of economic and foreign policies. The Cipher Brief spoke to Gordon Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World to learn more. The Cipher Brief: So far, reports of the ...

Amidst the fanfare of North Korea’s 7th Workers’ Party Congress, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’ promotion to Party Chairman was one of the few substantive announcements to emerge. The Cipher Brief spoke to former CIA linguist and leadership analyst Soo Kim to learn more about the significance of his new ...

What’s in a nickname? A term of endearment? A backhanded compliment laden with criticism of one’s flaws? In South Korea, a politician’s nickname – given affectionately and sometimes not so lightly by the public – conveys his or her most salient attributes and character. It’s also reflective of the constituents’ ...

The 7th North Korean Workers’ Party (WPK) Congress --the first event of its kind in 36 years-- began and ended with the flair for the dramatic we have come to expect from the reclusive communist state. Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un dialed up the party rhetoric and called on all workers ...

North Korea held its Seventh Workers’ Party Congress last week. The primary focus of the Congress was to consolidate Kim Jong-un’s domestic power base and clarify the policy direction for the country’s future development.  Based on the statements released from the Congress, North Korea continues to seek nuclear power status, ...

North Korea’s first Party Congress in three decades, a grand spectacle at which Kim Jong-un’s greatest achievement seems to have been giving himself the newly-created title of the chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), cannot have given the long-suffering citizens of North Korea much hope for a ...

Among Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s array of foreign policy positions is the suggestion that South Korea and Japan develop nuclear weapons for their own security so the U.S. would not have to take responsibility for their protection. While national security experts responded that Trump’s view was nearsighted and would be ...

North Korea’s nuclear saber rattling is raising concerns about further proliferation in the region.  There is a risk that should they feel sufficiently threatened by developments in neighboring states, the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea), Japan, and/or Taiwan (the Republic of China) could take steps in the direction ...

The Cipher Brief: Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have the technical ability to pursue nuclear weapons, but all three have refrained. What conditions would have to exist for these countries to consider nuclear programs? Tom Cynkin: Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have each considered the circumstances under which they would ...

It takes a trained eye to spot the patterns in the grainy satellite images, but subtle changes like tire tracks and repositioned mine carts show renewed tunneling activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. North Korea has restarted excavations. Though the evidence is far from conclusive, it does match activity ...

As we approach early May, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is expected to hold the first Party Congress in more than three decades, Kim is determined to demonstrate to the world that his nation is strong and has achieved the status of a nuclear military power and that there ...

Despite being the wellspring for cutting-edge technology brands such as Samsung, Sony, and HTC, Asia has proven to be less adept at managing a different sort of technological challenge: cybersecurity threats. A recent Deloitte Consulting white paper identified the “Cyber Five”—the five countries whose economies had the greatest vulnerability to ...

South Korea—boasting cutting-edge digital technology, efficient computer networks, and the world’s top high-speed Internet penetration rate—has earned global renown as a “strong Internet nation.” Behind these impressive feats, however, lies an unpleasant reality: its vulnerability to cyber threats, particularly to those allegedly originating from North Korea. Beginning with a series ...

Thanks to breach disclosure regulations in the U.S. and U.K., we regularly learn about the latest capers from the headlines. Without a doubt, these countries still face daunting cyber security challenges. One way to make those challenges look almost manageable is to compare them with the state of cyber awareness ...

If there was one way to emphasize the grave problem of nuclear security to the international community, South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s recent visit to Washington summed up the issue pretty well. On the fringes of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), Park met with President Barack Obama and the leaders ...

North Korea watchers knew what to expect following Pyongyang’s 4th nuclear test on January 6th, 2016: a new round of United Nations sanctions. Known as UNSC Resolution 2270, this latest group of sanctions increases inspections on cargo vessels, limits the import of North Korean raw materials such as coal, gold, ...

In the wake of a 4th nuclear test, a satellite launch, and, most recently, a KCNA film portraying a North Korean ICBM striking Washington, DC, the question has been raised yet again about whether the U.S. is doing enough to curb North Korean provocations. While the notion that North Korean ...

In the aftermath of the North Korean nuclear weapon test in January and its satellite launch/ICBM test in February, the United States and South Korea announced that they would begin formal talks on deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea. The THAAD System  THAAD would join ...

Future prosperity, security, even the realization of its full nationhood all depend on South Korea’s relationship with the isolated, rigid, fellow Korean nation to the north.  North Korea may cooperate with the South for enhanced security and economic and development advances, but it will not accept anything that suggests surrender ...

The recent North Korean nuclear test and the subsequent disguised long-range missile test have seriously cornered China. The world community, especially the United States and South Korea, have urged China to take decisive actions to “punish” Pyongyang’s flagrant challenges to international norms and rules. Beijing, however, is reluctant to impose ...

The United States and its allies believed their policy of “strategic patience” would allow them to wait for North Korea to denuclearize on its own, assuming sanctions and international pressure would ultimately force Pyongyang’s hand. However, five years later, with the most recent test of a nuclear bomb and the ...

In the wake of North Korea’s January nuclear test, White House spokesman Josh Earnest described U.S. goals for the Korean peninsula. “We want the North Koreans to end their provocative acts,” he said, “both in the form of missile tests and nuclear tests, to commit to denuclearization, and to demonstrate ...

Over four years have passed since Kim Jong-un took over the leadership of North Korea after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in late 2011. At the time, some hoped that Kim Jong-un’s young age and western education would lead him to set North Korea on a path toward ...

In this GOP presidential nomination campaign, when the issue is national security, Donald Trump reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. I thought of that movie after watching Trump’s appearance last Wednesday on the CBS Morning News and felt it again watching his performance during Saturday’s Republican debate and his ...

North Korea’s satellite launch over the weekend, on the heels of its nuclear test last month, raises the prospects of renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.  Beijing has heretofore protected Pyongyang from stricter economic sanctions.  Former U.S. foreign service officer and Northeast Asia expert, Dr. Thomas ...

North Korea’s claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb last week continues to draw both skepticism and outrage from the international community. The Cipher Brief spoke with Gordon Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World, about Pyongyang’s capabilities and motivations, and how the U.S. can ...

North Korean President Kim Jong Un announced Wednesday the successful test of what he claimed was a hydrogen bomb outside Pyongyang, and in doing so, angered the international community, including its closest ally, China.  Mike Chinoy, Senior Fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at USC, discussed with The Cipher Brief China’s likely ...

North Korea tested what was initially announced by Pyongyang to be a hydrogen bomb on Wednesday, though the Obama Administration is skeptical.    White House Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “the initial analysis is not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test.”   Still, Pyongyang’s announcement has serious ...

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s statements continue to confuse observers.  She has said that she is most interested in building trust with the North, but she has brought back ideas and government policies from the authoritarian past.  She suggests she is interested in peaceful reunification, but she does not talk ...

Twice last month, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea asked the United States of America to begin discussions on a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. The problem, as Korea watcher Andrei Lankov has noted, is that Pyongyang does not want to include South Korea in the talks ...

Amid all the uncertainties about North Korea’s unpredictable young leader, Kim Jong Un, one thing is clear: he has an unrelenting focus on security – his own personal security and the authoritarian regime’s security from external pressure. For personal security and to consolidate his hold on power, Kim – in power ...

While the end of the Cold War brought the reunification of East and West Germany, the Korean Peninsula has remained divided over the ensuing quarter century. For much of that time, Korean unification has been viewed through the lens of the economic costs of German unification, but in 2014, South ...