Using Big Data Analytics to Better Understand Korean Unification

Prediction: March 20, 2017

34%chance of North Korean WMD activity in the next 14 days.

51%chance of North Korean WMD activity in the next 30 days.

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 Korean Missile Launch | March 22, 2017
North Korea attempts to launch a ballistic missile from a location near Kalma on the country’s east coast. The missile reportedly exploded shortly after takeoff. Details on the type of missile North Korea was attempting to launch were not immediately available.

  U.S. Secretary of State Visits Japan, South Korea, and China | March 15-19, 2017
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Japan, South Korea, and China on his first trip to the Northeast Asian region as Secretary of State. He discussed strategic coordination to address North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programs as well as security and trade issues with officials in all three capitals.

  ROK President Park Geun-hye Removed from Office | March 10, 2017
The Constitutional Court announces the decision to uphold the impeachment of ROK President Park Geun-hye. The ROK National Assembly had voted to impeach Park on December 9, 2016 after a political scandal roiled the country. The inter-Korean relations signal experienced a noticeable spike immediately prior to this event.

  North Korea Launches Four Missiles | March 6, 2017
North Korea launched four ballistic missiles into the East Sea from a location near Tongchang-ri in North Pyongan province. Three of the missiles traveled at least 1000km (620 miles) and landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

  Annual U.S.-ROK Military Exercises | March 1 – April 30, 2017
U.S. and ROK 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 ROK forces in defense of the peninsula.

VX Nerve Agent Identified in Kim Jong Nam Murder | February 24, 2017
The Malaysian government announces VX nerve agent was used to kill Kim Jong Nam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia on February 13. Kim Jong Nam was the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. VX is banned by the International Chemical Weapons Convention and is classified as a weapon of mass destruction. Predata’s signals captured some volatility in the days following this announcement reflecting the increase in conversations about North Korea’s chemical and nuclear weapons programs.

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.