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.

UNSC Passes New North Korea Sanctions | August 5, 2017
On August 5, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passed Resolution 2371, entitled “Non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” imposing new sanction on North Korea in response to the country’s testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and violations of its previous resolutions.

North Korea Fires an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile | July 28, 2017
At 11:41PM KST on Friday, July 28 North Korea launched a missile into the East Sea/Sea of Japan from North Korea’s northwestern Jagang province. The missile reportedly flew for 45 minutes before splashing down in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. This launch came one day after the anniversary of the singing of the armistice that ended the hostilities of the Korean War and marks the 12 missile test North Korea has conducted this year. News reports and intelligence agencies had been widely anticipating the test.

Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice | July 27, 2017
On July 27, 1953, United States Army Senior Delegate and United Nations Command Delegation Lieutenant General William K. Harrison and his counterpart General of the Korea People’s Army Senior Delegate and Delegation of the Korea People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers Nam Il signed the Korean Armistice Agreement at Panmunjom, Korea. The armistice put into force “a complete cessation of hostilities” of the Korean War “until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.” The armistice established the Military Demarcation Line and the Demilitarized Zone, which runs across the 38th parallel between North and South Korea. In North Korea, where they claim to have one the war, the day is marked as the “Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War.” In the U.S., President Donald J. Trump proclaimed July 27, 2017 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day and called “upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor and give thanks to our distinguished Korean War veterans.”

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