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. President Trump Agrees to Meet with Kim Jong-un. | March 8, 2018
On March 8 (EST), President Trump accepted Kim Jong-un’s invitation to meet on the issue of denuclearization. The decision was announced by National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong of South Korea after meeting with high-level U.S. officials in Washington D.C. According to NSA Chung Eui-yong’s official statement, Kim Jong-un said he is committed to denuclearization and President Trump agreed to meet Kim Jong-un by May this year.

 South Korean Delegation Meets with Kim Jong-un. | March 5-6, 2018
On March 5, President Moon’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong traveled to Pyongyang along with National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Suh Hoon, Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, NIS Deputy Director Kim Sang-gyun and senior Cheong Wa Dae official Yun Kun-young to speak with North Korean officials, including Kim Jong-un. Both sides agreed to set up a hot line between President Moon Jae-in and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea Kim Jong-un and to hold a joint summit in late April.

Inter-Korean working-level talks held at Panmunjeom. | February 27, 2018
On February 27, South and North Korea held working-level talks regarding the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympics at Panmunjeom. As a result of the meeting, North Korea agreed to send athletes and a Paralympic Committee delegation to the Pyeongchang Paralympics scheduled for March 8 – March 18.

North Korean Official Kim Yong-chol Visits South Korea. | February 25-27, 2018
On February 25, North Korean official Kim Yong-chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and director of its united front department, made a three-day trip to South Korea to attend the closing ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. On the evening of the closing ceremony, President Moon Jae-in met with Kim Yong-chol and Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Korea’s committee for the peaceful reunification of the country (CPRC), in Pyeongchang. On February 26, Kim Yong-chol and Ri Son Gwon met with the director of the Blue House national security office, Chung Eui-yong, and South Korea’s special representative to the Six-Party Talks, Lee Do-hoon. Kim Yong-chol took the opportunity to reiterate North Korea’s willingness to hold talks with the United States.

U.S. Announces New North Korea Sanctions. | February 23, 2018
On February 23 (EST), the U.S. Treasury announced the largest North Korea-related sanctions package to date. The sanctions targeted one individual, 27 entities, and 28 vessels associated with North Korea. The relevant entities were located, registered, or flagged in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama, and Comoros.

North Korea Celebrates Kim Jong-il’s Birthday. | February 16, 2018
February 16 marked a national holiday in North Korea celebrating in memoriam the birthday of previous leader Kim Jong-il. Officially the national holiday is named “Day of the Shining Star” and this year marks what would have been Kim Jong-il’s 77th birthday. Kim Jong-un visited his father’s mausoleum at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to pay tribute. The 22nd Kimjongilia Flower Festival was held in Pyeongyang from February 13-20 to celebrate the day.

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