North Korean Decisionmaking

Santa Monica, Calif., USA: The RAND Corporation (2020)
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Discerning the decisionmaking of Kim Jong-Un and the North Korean regime on issues of peaceful engagement and warlike actions endures as a mighty challenge for U.S. intelligence analysts and policymakers. In this report, we seek to inform analysis of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) leadership decisionmaking. To do so, we use three discussion papers that were written to facilitate discussion of an interagency working group. The three papers are assembled here in a single report. The first discussion paper describes decisionmaking among different authoritarian regimes, including North Korea, and the opening up of those economies to outside engagement. The second paper outlines two different scenarios that might occur when conventional deterrence on the Korean Peninsula breaks down and the resulting decisions that North Korea’s leadership could face. The third paper assesses DPRK decisionmaking about nuclear weapon use. The report concludes with some observations, drawn from the issues covered in these three discussion papers, about DPRK decisionmaking and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

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