Reproduced by permission of the
Institute for Defense Analyses
This study was conducted by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) for the Office of
the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy). The task order, entitled “North Korean Policy Elites,”
requested an analysis of the North Korean elite to support Defense Department planning. The
study goals were to examine any differences that might exist among the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea (DPRK) elite, and to consider how different individuals, groups, or factions
might respond to U.S. initiatives. The study identifies top members of the elite, discusses their
personal and ideological priorities, examines their main information sources, and considers how
they interpret information. The Project Leader was Kongdan “Katy” Oh, Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analyses
and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
For this study, five specialists in North Korean and international security affairs were
invited to contribute papers. The project director coordinated the work and hosted initial and
concluding project discussions. The five papers are published here as the authors wrote them,
without major editorial revisions, the better to reflect each researcher’s distinctive approach. The
introduction and conclusions were written by the project leader, in collaboration with Ralph
Hassig. The authors and the project leader are accountable for their respective papers, although
all participants had the opportunity to review all the papers. Dr. Bruce Berkowitz, the DoD
study coordinator, provided inputs throughout the study and reviewed the papers, and his prompt
response to many questions and demands from the project director are much appreciated.
The project leader, who has prepared a brief field trip report on Asian views of North
Korea, is indebted to her many Asian interlocutors for their ideas and suggestions. Because
many of them asked that their remarks be kept off the record, in lieu of thanking them
individually a collective thanks goes out to them all.
[Regarding the Pyongyang declaration] We should recognize that 13 years ago [North Korea] agreed to far bigger concessions. Kim is trying to turn back the clock and set the terms of what he is willing to talk about. These are minuscule moves on Kim’s part and we should treat them accordingly.
[South Korean President] Moon’s challenge is get something from Kim [Jong-un] that he can then sell to [President] Trump. To judge from Trump’s endless flattery of Kim, this shouldn’t be too hard. The question is whether this game can persist indefinitely without definitive evidence of North Korean actions [as opposed to words] of what Kim has supposedly agreed to.