In 2019, the CSIS Korea Chair celebrates 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.
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.
We hosted the Washington Program of the U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program on December 5-7 in Washington, D.C. The NextGen program is an n initiative by CSIS Korea Chair and USC Korean Studies Institute with support from The Korea Foundation to help mentor the next generation of Korea specialists in the United States. As part of the Washington Program, our eleven 2018-2019 NextGen scholars got up to speed on policy on the Korean peninsula by meeting with policymakers, experts, journalists and the Hill to discuss the latest developments.
David Sanger of the New York Times and resident Korea expert Victor Cha weighed in on the recent CSIS findings of 16 hidden missile bases in North Korea in the newest episode of the CSIS The Impossible State podcast on November 16. They discussed David Sanger’s article on the matter, and how the Trump administration has responded to these findings.
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.
CSIS and JoongAng Ilbo co-hosted the eighth annual JoongAng Ilbo-CSIS Forum, “Striving for Peace,” in Seoul, South Korea on October 22, 2018. An internationally acclaimed group of experts, former government officials, and opinion leaders came together to address the prospects related to future diplomacy on the Korean peninsula and assess how a peace process can be achieved. The panels featured dynamic discussions on achieving denuclearization in the Korean peninsula, the challenges for President Moon’s peace diplomacy, the prospects for economic change in North Korea, and critical issues in the U.S.-ROK alliance.
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.
Ambassador Robert King, senior adviser at CSIS Korea Chair and previously the special envoy for North Korea human rights issues at the U.S. Department of State from November 2009 to January 2017, discusses the need difficulties for North Korean defectors in the era of rapprochement with North Korea.
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.
This CSIS Beyond Parallel Living History interview features Ambassador Joseph Yun who served as the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Korea and Japan at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from October 2016 to March 2018. In this interview, Ambassador Yun recounts his diplomatic experience negotiating with the North Koreans and a series of efforts to maintain a direct line of communication with his counterparts.
CSIS experts Dr. Victor Cha, Dr. Sue Mi Terry and Ms. Bonnie Glaser spoke to reporters ahead of U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo’s trip to North Korea this weekend to preview his upcoming meeting.
The third inter-Korean summit took place from September 18 to 20 in Pyongyang, North Korea. The two leaders, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea, signed the Pyongyang Joint Declaration on September 19, 2018. In this Critical Questions, CSIS experts Victor Cha, Sue Mi Terry and Michael Green looked at five questions to examine what it meant for South Korea, North Korea, the United States, and what to expect of the road ahead and challenges on North Korean denuclearization.
Dr. Victor Cha, Senior Adviser and Korea Chair at CSIS and Mr. Abraham M. Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a senior fellow at the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States co-authored an op-ed in Bloomberg Opinion on September 12 arguing “The Case Against Doing Nothing On North Korea.”
Victor Cha, senior adviser and Korea Chair for CSIS, testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on the importance of incorporating human rights into a credible, verifiable deal with North Korea on, “North Korea: Peace Talks and Human Rights” on September 13, 2018.
Ambassador Robert King, senior adviser at CSIS Korea Chair and previously the special envoy for North Korea human rights issues at the U.S. Department of State from November 2009 to January 2017, discusses the need for humanitarian aid in North Korea and why humanitarian engagement should be an issue on the table in the relationship with the North.
In partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the CSIS Korea Chair uses unclassified geospatial imagery and data to produce new, timely, and accurate reporting on the North Korean economy and society, infrastructure, and border activities. Recent commercial satellite imagery of the Wonsan Railway Rolling Stock Complex, North Korea’s largest manufacturing and repair facility for railcars, shows it is currently active and appears to be well maintained by North Korean standards. As railroads and railway facilities serve as a vital link underpinning North Korea’s underdeveloped economy, analysis of this facility can be a brick-and-mortar signpost of foundational infrastructure progress if rapprochement leads to new opportunities for infrastructure development.
Korea Chair experts helped to explain, assesses and interpret the results of the Singapore Summit on June 12 , 2018 and the road ahead.
CSIS Discussion on North Korea at the Aspen Ideas Festival
Dr. Victor Cha, Senior Adviser and Korea Chair at CSIS discussed the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula with Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of Australia at the Aspen Ideas Festival on June 29, 2018.
The KF-VUB Korea Chair and CSIS Korea Chair collaborated on an event in Brussels on June 14, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium to assess the results of the Singapore Summit from the European, American, and Korean perspectives.