38 North, the website dedicated to providing informed policy and technical analysis of North Korea, joined Stimson on June 1, 2018. The site is an internationally recognized source for information about developments in and around North Korea. While it is best known for satellite imagery analysis of the North’s major WMD sites, 38 North examines key developments that affect North Korea’s domestic economy and strategic thinking, as well as the country’s evolving relationship with the US, South Korea, China, and the international community.
Photo credit, above: Maxar Technologies, 2017
CHanging the conversation
Analysis that shapes the policy debate every day
38 North is moving the conversation on North Korea forward with an eye toward practical domestic and geopolitical realities that will inherently shape future dynamics between one of the most opaque nations on earth and its neighbors, regional actors, and the United States. The site adds to Stimson’s legacy of ignoring partisan positions and searching for the truth to better inform the policymaking process.
An independent perspective on an oft-misunderstood issue
After joining Stimson’s East Asia team in June, 38 North almost immediately gained broad attention for analysis leading up to and following President Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. After President Trump announced Kim had promised the destruction of a key facility, the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, 38 North published satellite imagery analysis confirming that work was being done to dismantle the facility. Underscoring their disinterest in supporting one policy viewpoint or another, 38 North’s analysis took seriously the possibility that President Trump’s approach could fundamentally change the course of the relationship.
Shaping the debate since 2010
Co-founders Joel Wit and Jenny Town started the site in 2010 because they were worried about the quality of North Korea policy analysis and media coverage. Their goal was to create a platform for experts and practitioners with experience working with or in North Korea, elevating nuanced and well-reasoned analysis that could lead to a more productive conversation and avoid long-held misconceptions.
“Beyond the pageantry of what has become summit diplomacy between Trump and Kim, the severity of what’s at stake warrants serious consideration not only of the nature of the threat North Korea’s WMD programs pose, but of what drives Kim’s strategic decisions.”
– Joel S. Wit, Senior Fellow and Director
38 North is a publication of the East Asia Program
The East Asia program studies trends and highlights developments in the region’s security and diplomacy-related initiatives and the United States’ strategic interests in the region.