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.

North Korea Tests Medium-Range Ballistic Missile | May 21, 2017
North Korea launched a Pukguksong-2 missile from a location near Lake Yonpung in South Pyongan province. According to South Korean sources the missile traveled approximately 500 km (310 miles) and was similar to the PGS-2 launch in February 2017.

North Korea Tests New Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile | May 14, 2017
North Korea launched a new type of intermediate-range missile called the Hwasong-12 from a location near Kusong on the northwest coast of the country on May 14 Korea standard time (KST). The missile may be similar to the type launched from the same area in October 2016. As seen above Predata’s North Korea WMD signal showed a spike on May 11, three days prior to the rest and a prediction issued on May 12 showed an elevated likelihood of North Korean WMD activity within the next 14 days.

South Korea Elects President Moon | May 9, 2017
In the May 9 snap election, South Koreans elected Moon Jae-in as their next President, after more than six months of domestic political turmoil following the impeachment of former South Korean president Park Geun-hye. President Moon and his administration take office the day immediately following the election on May 10.

THAAD Missile Defense System Goes into Operation | May 2, 2017
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system went into operation in Seongju, South Korea. THAAD has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles. The United States and South Korea reached an agreement in July 2016 to deploy the system. It’s installation and operation comes a few days before the May 9 presidential election in South Korea.

Failed North Korea Missile Test | April 29, 2017
North Korea launched a ballistic missile, which reportedly failed shortly after take-off, from the Pukchang airfield in the country’s southwest. As seen in the above visualization, the North Korea WMD signal peaked three days prior to the test reaching its highest point in the previous 30 days and showing a significant overnight increase.

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