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. All dates listed are in Korea Standard Time (KST) unless otherwise noted.

U.S. Treasury Sanctions Additional North Korean Banks and Individuals | September 26, 2017
On September 26 (EST), the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated eight North Korean banks and 26 individuals who act as representatives of North Korean banks. These sanctions build upon UN Security Council resolutions, including the most recent resolution unanimously adopted on September 11, 2017, as well as previous U.S. unilateral sanctions and presidential executive orders. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a press release that these new designations will advance the strategy intended to “achieve our broader objectives of a peaceful and denuclearized Korean peninsula.”

U.S. Announces Presidential Executive Order on Imposing Additional Sanctions on North Korea | September 21, 2017
In a brief public statement during a meeting with the President Moon of South Korea and Prime Minister Abe of Japan on September 21 (EST), President Trump announced a new presidential executive order “Imposing Additional Sanctions with Respect to North Korea.” The order increases the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury’s powers to impose sanctions related to North Korea.

North Korea Tests an Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile | September 15, 2017
On the morning of September 15, North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) which overflew Japan. According to a statement by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, the missile flew approximately 3700 km from its launch site near Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport before landing in the Pacific Ocean. The launch follows a UN Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s September 3 nuclear test and imposing new sanctions.

The UN Security Council Strengthens Sanctions on North Korea | September 11, 2017
On September 11 (EST), the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 2375 in response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, condemning the act and strengthening its sanctions on North Korea.

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