A Method to North Korea’s Madness in 2017: Kim Jong-un’s Rational Play of a Weak Hand
- David Shin (Associate Professor and Deputy Chair, National Intelligence University (NIU))
David Shin in his talk on “A Method to North Korea’s Madness in 2017: Kim Jong-un’s Rational Play of a Weak Hand,” challenges the view that the U.S. and North Korea were on the brink of war in 2017. He goes beyond the U.S.-North Korea dyad during the crisis by examining the roles of China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea as independent actors, not an element of U.S. strategy of maximum pressure or as bystanders.
More importantly, Shin considers Kim’s strategy to accelerate his nuclear ICBM development and argues that the rise of Moon Jae-in and the specter of Korean unity during the 2018 Winter Olympics shaped his strategy’s design. This required him to accelerate his nuclear and ICBM testing, and he did so by exposing Trump’s embrace of the madman theory, which alarmed policymakers in Washington more than any other actors involved, and carefully escalated the crisis to his advantage by goading Trump into a war of words to justify his pursuit of a nuclear deterrent that could threaten the US homeland. His surprisingly effective charm offensive set the conditions to gain sanctions relief as he balances his role as an agent of social change and oppressor of his people in North Korea.
Associate Professor and Deputy Chair, National Intelligence University (NIU)
Dr. David W. Shin is an Associate Professor and Deputy Chair in the Department of Regional Security and Intelligence Issues, College of Strategic Intelligence, National Intelligence University (NIU). He served over 25 years in the US Military Intelligence Corps and as a Northeast Asia Foreign Area Officer, retiring in 2011 as a Colonel. He holds a PhD from Cranfield University, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, and master’s degrees from the then-Defense Intelligence College (now NIU), the University of Washington, and the then-Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now Eisenhower School) at National Defense University. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1986 and is the author of the book Rationality in the North Korean Regime: Understanding the Kims’ Strategy of Provocation, published in 2018 by Lexington Books, an Imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. It was selected in March 2019 by Rowman & Littlefield for inclusion in its new delivery platform, Rowman & Littlefield Select Collections. This will provide academic libraries with electronic access to curated collections of resources to support student and faculty research.