icon caret Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up Line Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Crisiswatch Alerts and Trends Box - 1080/761 Copy Twitter Video Camera  copyview Youtube

Korean Peninsula

The recent exchange of aggressive rhetoric between North Korea and the U.S. over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and missile program has been one of the most vitriolic to date, posing a serious threat to security in the region and beyond. North Korea continues to violate UN resolutions as it accelerates its nuclear program and carries out ballistic missile tests at a quickened pace. Beijing, its most important ally and trading partner, is frustrated by its neighbour’s policy but prefers continuity of the status quo to the instability that would follow radical change. Crisis Group works to decrease the risk of nuclear and conventional war on the peninsula while directing our regional and global advocacy at identifying opportunities for cooperation between stakeholders on all sides.

CrisisWatch Korean Peninsula

Unchanged Situation

Amid stalemate in denuclearisation negotiations between U.S. and North Korea, tensions mounted as Pyongyang launched two short-range ballistic missiles 4 May (from south east) and 9 May (from north west), first missile launches in any form since Dec 2017. U.S. President Trump downplayed significance of launches, saying he remains hopeful of a deal with North Korea; U.S. Sec State Mike Pompeo noted that tests did not break North Korea’s testing moratorium, which he said only covers intercontinental ballistic missiles – prompting speculation that Pyongyang may proceed with a mid-range ballistic missile launch. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton 24 May said there is “no doubt” that launches violate UN Security Council resolutions. Pyongyang same day stated it will not resume negotiations with Washington unless U.S. changes its stance on sequencing of concessions in negotiations. Amid stalled talks, U.S. 9 May legally seized North Korea’s second-largest cargo vessel pursuant to civil asset forfeiture case filed in New York over accusations of involvement in money laundering transactions; North Korea demanded return of vessel, which had been physically held for a year, and convened rare press conference at UN 21 May to denounce U.S. over case. Inter-Korean tensions also on display; Pyongyang did not join South Korea in late April celebrations of first anniversary of 2018 Panmunjom inter-Korean summit, and North Korean state media 25 May accused South Korea of participating in military exercise in U.S. in Nov 2018.

Continue reading

Reports & Briefings

In The News

14 Mar 2019
Any US government that is serious about making headway with NK in negotiations should be quietly funding info freedom activities as well. Twitter

Christopher Green

Senior Adviser, Korean Peninsula
28 Feb 2019
For the U.S., it would be politically unacceptable and a terrible idea to trade all economic sanctions for the dismantlement of Yongbyon, as Kim seems to have demanded. Reuters

Christopher Green

Senior Adviser, Korean Peninsula
28 Feb 2019
The @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo presser this afternoon was revealing, & seems to give contours of a path forward. For one thing, Trump emphasized productivity of discussion and positivity of tone on all sides. Doesn't mean it wasn't a setback, but talks will likely continue. Twitter

Christopher Green

Senior Adviser, Korean Peninsula
4 Jan 2019
A relatively modest trade would help kickstart a more meaningful diplomatic process [between the U.S. and North Korea]. A verified shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility wouldn’t end North Korea’s program but it could be significant. Washington Examiner

Stephen Pomper

Program Director, United States
23 Sep 2018
The [U.S.] president is prepared to bluster and threaten, but he also wants to achieve the deal of the century. With North Korea, it worked because he had a willing partner. The problem he’s going to face with Iran is that the leaders there believe a meeting would validate his strategy The New York Times

Robert Malley

President & CEO
26 Jul 2018
Broadly speaking, one side [the U.S.] wants denuclearization first, normalization of relations later, and the other [North Korea] wants normalization of relations first, then denuclearization later. Reuters

Christopher Green

Senior Adviser, Korean Peninsula

Latest Updates

Commentary / Asia

Getting the U.S. in Step with the Koreas’ Diplomatic Dance

A new round of inter-Korean diplomacy commenced 18 September as the North and South Korean leaders met for a three-day summit. Meanwhile, U.S.-North Korean relations are reverting to previous bad form. Washington should welcome Seoul’s help in restarting productive contacts with Pyongyang.

Also available in 简体中文
Commentary / Asia

After the Trump-Kim Summit: Now Comes the Hard Part

Last week the world watched the first-ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a U.S. president. Crisis Group offers a 360-degree view of how the summit played in the U.S., the Korean peninsula, China and Japan – and what it may mean going forward.

Also available in 简体中文
Op-Ed / United States

Why Trump Should Take It Slow With Kim Jong Un

Any successful deal with North Korea will require an extraordinary amount of patience and attention to detail.

Originally published in Politico Magazine

Report / United States

Deep Freeze and Beyond: Making the Trump-Kim Summit a Success

The greatest risk to the 12 June summit between the U.S. and North Korea is mismatched expectations. To avoid a return to escalatory rhetoric, both parties should keep hopes modest and adopt an action-for-action approach as part of a four-step plan for denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

Also available in 한국어, 简体中文
Commentary / Asia

Trilateral North East Asia Summit Signals a Return to Cooperation

Facing uncertain times in U.S. policy and a pivot to diplomacy from North Korea, leaders of China, Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo on 9 May to downplay historical grievances and show their support for denuclearisation, trade and better relations. But underlying disputes could still resurface.

Also available in 简体中文

Our People

Christopher Green

Senior Adviser, Korean Peninsula