Using Big Data Analytics to Better Understand Korean Unification

Beyond Parallel, powered by the analytics of Predata, is seeking to bring open source intelligence tools to issues related to Korean unification. The signals are drawn from publicly available sources on expertly curated topics to capture the volume and vigor of the online conversation around these issues. The signals are then paired with Beyond Parallel databases of historical events to analyze current trends and make predictions about future events.

Notable Events and Signal Interactions

The signals above capture the volume and engagement in conversations related to North Korean weapons programs (North Korea WMD) and inter-Korean relations. When signal spikes occur following major events, they enable Beyond Parallel to better understand the impact of these events on Korean relations, and when spikes occur independently they have often proven strong indicators that a major event is about to take place.

Failed North Korea Missile Test | April 16, 2017
North Korea launched a ballistic missile, which reportedly failed almost immediately after take-off, from the port city of Sinpo on the country’s east coast. Details on the type of ballistic missile were not immediately available. The missile test occurred one day after North Korea celebrated the 105th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birth, and only hours before U.S. vice president Pence arrived in South Korea for his first trip to the Asia-Pacific region. As displayed above, the North Korea WMD signal showed a noticeable spike in activity, reaching its highest point in the previous 30 days, just two days prior to this failed test.

U.S. Vice President Visits South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia | April 15-25, 2017
U.S. vice president Mike Pence visited South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia on his first official trip to the Asia-Pacific region. He emphasized the continued commitment of the United States and warned North Korea against further provocations. While in Korea Vice President Pence participated in a bilateral meeting with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and visited the Demilitarized Zone.

North Korea Ballistic Missile Test | April 5, 2017
North Korea test fired a ballistic missile from a site near the city of Sinpo which flew approximately 37 miles into the sea east of the Korean peninsula. Initial assessments indicated it was a KN-15 two stage solid-fuel missile but later reports suggested it might have been a SCUD-ER medium-range liquid-fuel missile. The test occurred just before the first meeting between U.S. president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping, where North Korea is expected to be a major point of discussion.

Annual U.S.-ROK Military Exercises | March 1 – April 30, 2017
U.S. and South Korean forces conduct military exercises in and around the Korean peninsula. The annual Foal Eagle exercises will be held from March 1 to April 30 and Key Resolve exercises will be carried out from March 13 to March 24. The exercises are designed to improve joint coordination and overall preparedness of the U.S. and South Korean forces in defense of the peninsula.

Big Data in International Relations

Big data refers to any collection of large amounts of information that can come from nearly any source. In addition to traditional sources of data, the internet offers a plethora of potential sources for big data sets including web page edits, social media posts, and online news stories. These data sets are large and complex, requiring specialized data processing software to arrange the data and extract useful information. With the right tools, we can use big data analytics to search for patterns and correlations to learn more about the world or make predictions about the future. These analytics can be applied to a broad array of topics ranging from sports, politics, popular culture, to intelligence in international relations.

In the field of international relations, signals intelligence derived from electronic sources, including the internet, have been a tool used by the intelligence community to bring more intelligence information to policy makers as they make decisions about global affairs. But not all that information and intelligence has to be from top secret sources to be incredibly valuable. Open source intelligence signals are in fact a rich source of information that can provide important insights and context to current events and ongoing trends.

Combining this new big data tool with established tools such as expert analysis, satellite imagery, and historical lessons should bring new information to policymakers, academics and the expert community as we seek to build greater understanding of topics and events surrounding Korean unification.

Additional Reading