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.-North Korea Summit Cancelled. | May 24, 2018
President Trump issued a letter to Kim Jong-un on May 24 (EST) giving notice that the planned June 12 U.S.-North Korea summit would not take place. Trump cited the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent North Korean statements and expressed his sadness at the missed opportunity.

President Moon Jae-in and President Trump Meet in Washington. | May 22, 2018
On May 22, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and President Donald Trump held a bilateral meeting at the White House. They discussed the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit and reaffirmed their cooperation to achieve denuclearization of North Korea. This was President Moon’s second visit to the U.S. since he became president in May 2017.

North Korea Cancels High-Level Inter-Korean Talks. | May 15, 2018
On May 15, 2018, North Korea’s state media announced its cancellation of the high-level inter-Korean talks originally scheduled to occur on May 16, criticizing the Max Thunder drills conducted between the joint U.S.-South Korea air force. In its public statement, North Korea also threatened to cancel the U.S.-North Korea summit, claiming that “the U.S. will have to think twice about the fate of the North Korea-U.S. summit now on high agenda before a provocative military racket against North Korea in league with the south Korean authorities.”

U.S.-South Korea Combined Air Forces Max Thunder Drills. | May 11-25, 2018
On May 14, South Korea’s Air Force Operations Command and the U.S. 7th Air Force began their annual Max Thunder drills, involving eight F-22 radar-evading fighters. The drills are expected to conclude on May 25.

Three U.S. Detainees Released from North Korea. | May 9, 2018
Three U.S. citizens who had been detained in North Korea for more than a year were released on May 9. Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim (Kim Sang-duk), and Kim Hak-song returned to the U.S. on May 10 2:00AM EST with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Pyongyang to discuss details in preparation for the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un Meets Xi Jinping in Dalian. | May 7-8, 2018
On May 7, Kim Jong-un met with Xi Jinping in the city of Dalian in China’s Liaoning province for a second summit in about forty days. During the meeting, the two leaders reiterated their commitment to enhance bilateral China-North Korea relations. Kim Jong-un affirmed his position to denuclearize “as long as relevant parties abolish their hostile policies and remove security threats against the DPRK.”

South Korea Removes Inter-Korean Border Loudspeakers. | May 1, 2018
On May 1, South Korea removed loudspeakers from the inter-Korean border, as agreed upon in the Panmunjeom Declaration.

Inter-Korean Summit Held at Panmunjeom. | April 27, 2018
On April 27, President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un met at the Peace House of Panmunjeom to hold the third inter-Korean summit. This was the first time that a North Korean leader crossed the military demarcation line to step foot on South Korean territory since the Korean War, and the first inter-Korean summit to be hosted in South Korea. At the summit, the two leaders signed the Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Unification of the Korean Peninsula — a joint statement promising to end the Korean War and establish a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula; reaffirming the Non-Aggression Pact; and agreeing to continue diplomatic and cultural exchanges, including family reunions, the first to be held on August 15. North Korea also agreed to close its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri this May and verify its dismantlement by inviting South Korean and U.S. experts and journalists to the site. In addition, North Korea will change its time zone, which is currently half an hour behind Korea time, to match that of South Korea. After the summit meeting, the two leaders attended a welcoming banquet, during which the First Lady of South Korea Kim Jung-sook met with Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju.

U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Begin Annual Key Resolve Exercises. | April 23, 2018
On April 23, the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces began their annual Key Resolve exercises. These simulation-based command post exercises will last for two weeks, but will halt temporarily on April 27 in respect of the inter-Korean summit.

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