North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Facility: Operations Resume at the 5 MWe Plutonium Production Reactor

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu and Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. New commercial satellite imagery indicates that operations at the 5 MWe plutonium production reactor located at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center has likely resumed. Analysis from January 18 showed signs that Pyongyang was preparing…


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North Korea’s Man on the Moon?

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“Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon!” What would have been alarming coming from a Cold War superpower seems almost comical coming from Pyongyang. Yet that was…


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Continued Unidentified Activity at Site of North Korea’s Last Nuclear Test

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu and Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr.  Recent commercial satellite imagery from August 4, 2016 shows continued activity at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, specifically at the North Portal, site of North Korea’s fourth nuclear test conducted in January 2016. While supplies and/or…


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Cold War Communications: The Two Koreas Resume Coded Radio Broadcasts

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A little after midnight, early on the morning of July 15, as most of the Korean peninsula slept, were North Korean spies up late listening to the radio? This was the big question after a strange sequence of numbers was read out on a North Korean radio station. It sounded…


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Little Activity at North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard; Recent Media Reports of New Submarine Pens Nearby Incorrect

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates no significant submarine related activity at the Sinpo South Shipyard, home port of North Korea’s sole GORAE-class experimental ballistic missile submarine. Specifically: In the secure boat basin, the GORAE-class submarine remains berthed at its…


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North Korea’s Hodo Peninsula Training Area

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Sun Young Ahn. Located on the Hodo Peninsula, north of Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast is what is commonly referred to as the Hodo Peninsula Training Area.[1] The Hodo Peninsula has been used as a training area…


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Freezing North Korea’s Nuclear Program

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Joel Wit, 38 North co-founder and senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute at SAIS, discusses “Freezing North Korea’s Nuclear Program” at the Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS) Spring Symposium. The discussion, “Humanity, Liberty, Peace and Security: The Korean Peninsula Issues and US National Security,” took place on May 17, 2016. In…


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North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Submarine: Probable Post-Missile Test Maintenance; Construction Hall Externally Complete

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. Summary Recent commercial satellite imagery, acquired five days after the July 9 launch of the second KN-11 this year, shows post-test activity and provides a status update of the Sinpo South Shipyard, the homeport of North Korea’s GORAE-class ballistic…


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Book Review: “North Korea’s Juche Myth”

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North Korea’s Juche Myth By B. R. Myers. Busan: Sthele Press, August 2015. 289 pp. Analysts often invoke North Korea’s Juche ideology of “self-reliance” to explain everything from the country’s personality cult to its military belligerence. Some portray Juche as a logical result of North Korea’s geopolitical environment, and of…


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North Korea’s Military Partnerships Under Threat?

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The latest UN sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have locked the two Koreas in a war for influence on far-flung battlegrounds, from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America. Seoul, however, could inadvertently minimize any future gains in the fight without careful reflection on its…


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Correcting the Record on 38 North’s Analysis of North Korea’s Possible Fifth Nuclear Test

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The recent article, “What’s behind North Korea’s attempts for dialogue?” by Cha Du-Hyeogn, published by NK News calls 38 North to task as “falling for Pyongyang’s trickery” and reporting on “omens” of an imminent fifth nuclear test. Normally, we wouldn’t respond to such comments, but 38 North takes a great…


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After the Party Congress: What to Make of North Korea’s Commitment to Economic Development?

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It comes as a surprise to no one that North Korea’s newly concluded 7th Party Congress was more “show” than “tell,” but the gathering succeeded as a platform for Kim Jong Un to cement his leadership legitimacy and broad policy for governing. By pulling off the event without a hitch…


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North Korea’s Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile: Continued Progress at the Sinpo South Shipyard

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. Summary North Korea’s recent successful test launch of another Bukkeukseong-1 (Polaris-1, KN-11) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) has reinforced ongoing concerns regarding the continuing development of the missile system and the GORAE-class experimental ballistic missile submarine. Recent commercial satellite imagery…


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Update on North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu and Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. Recent commercial satellite imagery from April 28 shows signs of continued low-level activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Based on available evidence, it is not possible to determine whether these activities are related to continued…


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North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site: Limited Activity Continues; Tunnel Excavation Resumes

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu. Summary New commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site from April 19 shows limited vehicle and equipment activity at the North Portal and Main Support Area as well as indications of resumed excavation operations at the West Portal….


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Listening to Korea’s Liberals

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The resounding defeat handed to South Korea’s ruling conservative party in last week’s legislative elections had, on the surface, little to do with North Korea. Domestic issues dominated the campaign, and the vote reflected a so-called South-South struggle that not only pit liberals against conservatives, but also split the liberals…


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North Korea’s Large Rocket Engine Test: A Significant Step Forward for Pyongyang’s ICBM Program

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Summary North Korea’s April 9 test of a large liquid-fuel engine is a disturbing development that not only highlights the growing threat posed by Pyongyang but should also put to rest, once and for all, all claims that the North’s WMD programs are a hoax. In fact, the test demonstrated…


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Hiding in Plain Sight: Cowboys, Conmen and North Korea’s $6 Trillion Natural Resource Prize

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Kevin Leech became a billionaire through a series of investments in pharmaceutical and technology companies after selling his family’s 38 funeral parlors across England. After losing everything when his company, an internet incubator named Ci4net.com collapsed, Leech emerged from bankruptcy in 2005 and engineered a series of mining…


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A Solid but Incremental Improvement in North Korea’s Missiles

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North Korea recently showed images of a large solid-fuel rocket motor test that appears to have been both real and successful. The motor, much bigger than any solid-fuel motor previously seen in the North, is not appropriately sized to be used on any existing missile in Pyongyang’s stockpile. Rather, a…


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North Korea’s Punggye-ri Facility Appears Ready to Support New Nuclear Tests

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A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu. Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates continued activity at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site that does not appear directed at further tunnel excavation but rather to maintain existing tunnels as well as to clean up after the January 2016 nuclear test….


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