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.

President Trump Meets with Kim Yong-chol. | May 30 – June 1, 2018
On the afternoon of June 1, President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo met with Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol of North Korea in the Oval Office in Washington, DC to discuss the upcoming summit. Kim Yong Chol also delivered a letter written by North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un to President Trump. President Trump announced both the U.S. and North Korea reaffirmed their resolve to hold the summit on June 12 in Singapore. Earlier in the week, Secretary Pompeo met with Kim Yong-chol in New York City May 30 – May 31 (EST).

President Moon and Chairman Kim Meet for a Second Inter-Korean Summit. | May 26, 2018
On May 26, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on the northern side of Panmunjeom. President Moon explained in a press briefing on May 27 that the meeting was initiated by a May 25 request from Kim Jong-un for “a meeting without any formality.” The meeting marks the second inter-Korean summit to take place this year.

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 and President Trump Meet in Washington. | May 22, 2018
On May 22 (EST), 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, 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.

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