Impact Player: Ri Son-gwon

Foreign Affairs
, by and Ri Son-gwon is the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea. He is a former military official in the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and the former head of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC), the bureau in charge of inter-Korean relations.

A Vase or a Missile? North Korea’s Christmas Surprise

Commentary
, by Christmas passed without the threatened “Christmas gift” from North Korea. President Trump quipped while on holiday in Mar-a-Lago that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might send him a “beautiful vase” rather than a missile as a gift. In either event, the two years of summit diplomacy and Trump-Kim “bromance” appears to have reached a turning point with no progress on denuclearization since the failed Hanoi summit and a series of North Korean missile tests in the past two months.

Database: North Korean Provocations

Military, Nuclear Weapons
The CSIS Beyond Parallel team compiled an original database of all North Korean provocations since the Korean War in 1953, beginning with the first provocation documented in 1958. There has been more than 280 instances of provocations, including from missile and nuclear tests, airplane hijackings, bombings, exchange of fire, to infiltration and territorial incursions into South Korea.

December 2019 Update: Chamjin-ni Vertical Engine Test Stand

Military, Nuclear Weapons
, by and The Chamjin-ni vertical engine test stand appears to be minimally maintained but apparently capable and available for engine testing at any time. It is North Korea’s oldest known test stand, developed in the 1980s. There is no evidence of recent tests. This is indicated by the absence of scarring in the exhaust deflector and color-infrared imagery showing healthy vegetation at the end of the exhaust deflector.

Living History with Ambassador Shin Kak-soo

Foreign Affairs
This Living History interview features Shin Kak-soo, former South Korean ambassador to Japan (2011-2013). Ambassador Shin reflects on the complexities of Korea’s relations with its neighbor Japan. He provides an overview of how entrenched partisan politics can prevent the successful resolution of crises between these two key U.S. allies.

December 2019 Sinpo Update No. 2: Waiting for Godot

Military, Nuclear Weapons
, by and As with Beyond Parallel’s December 4 report, satellite imagery of the Sinpo South Shipyard collected on December 14, 2019 does not provide any indication of the launch of the much anticipated “newly built submarine” or preparations for the shipyard’s test stand. The only observation of significance at the shipyard is the presence of a 16-METER class midget submarine (SSW) moored alongside the barely visible submersible missile test stand barge in the shipyard’s secure boat basin.

December 2019 Update: Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground

Military, Nuclear Weapons
, by and While speculation (sometimes wild) continues to grow concerning a North Korean end-of-year “surprise,” Beyond Parallel is continuing its recent series of surveys of the North’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) facilities to determine if there are any new developments. It is our desire to provide objective and factual information to enable decision-makers, policymakers and the general public to better understand the important aspects of the threat posed by North Korea and provide assistance to all in arriving at calm and informed decisions. Our recent surveys include the Sinpo South Shipyard, Sohae Satellite Launching Station, Nampo Submersible Test Stand Barge and Magunpo Solid Rocket Motor Test Stand.

December 2019 Update: The Magunpo Solid Rocket Motor Test Facility

Military, Nuclear Weapons
, by and The Magunpo Solid Rocket Motor Test Facility is located a few kilometers west of the Hamhung-Hungnam area and along the east coast of North Korea. December 6 imagery shows minor activity at the facility, including the presence of a small truck and some crates. Although no recent test appears to have taken place (i.e., absence of scarring in the exhaust deflector and healthy surrounding vegetation), the facility appears to be well-maintained and ready for solid rocket motor testing at any time. A successful test of solid fuel propellant engine, particularly at the east test stand, would denote another major advancement in survivable nuclear weapons capability, and would presumably also be designed to put additional pressure on the U.S. to make concessions in negotiations.