Open Source Research on North Korea: Challenges and Opportunities


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Open Source Research on North Korea: Challenges and Opportunities

SSDC US-Korea Institute at SAIS

The U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS and the Sejong Society of Washington, D.C. present:

Open Source Research on North Korea: Challenges and Opportunities


Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.
Co-Founder and Chief Analytics Officer
AllSource Analysis, Inc.

Michael Madden
Author and Editor
North Korea Leadership Watch

Curtis Melvin
U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins

Moderated by:
Jenny Town
Assistant Director, USKI
Managing Editor and Producer, 38North

The persistent lack of reliable information on North Korea poses unique and significant challenges for policymakers, researchers, academics, and businesses who have an interest in understanding North Korea. With limits on the integrity and diversity of information coming out of the country, we are often driven to make decisions under conditions of information asymmetry and false perceptions, or sometimes fail to make a decision at all because no information is available. This challenge has not only affected our decision-making with regards to North Korea’s nuclear program and human rights issues, but has also hindered us from gaining a strategic understanding of the country’s leadership, politics, and economy.

Over the past decade, however, the advent of new technologies and methods has opened new opportunities to mitigate this information gap through open source research. Several analytical websites on North Korea have also begun to provide an open forum for disseminating and discussing the research and information. This type of open source information has often become the foundation for further research, analysis, and policy decisions, and therefore merits further discussion.

 On June 3, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Michael Madden, and Curtis Melvin will share their experience conducting research and analysis on North Korea and will offer perspectives on enhancing open source research on the reclusive country.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

*Light dinner provided at 6:00pm, event will start 6:30pm

Room 500
Bernstein-Offit Building (BOB)
Johns Hopkins SAIS
1717 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C., 20036

This event is on the record.

Please RSVP here


Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. is an internationally recognized analyst, award winning author and lecturer on North Korean defense and intelligence affairs and ballistic missile development in the Third World. He is Chief Analytics Officer and co-founder of AllSource Analysis, Inc. and has served as: senior all-source analyst for DigitalGlobe’s Analysis Center; senior analyst, consultant and author for IHS Jane’s (formerly the Jane’s Information Group); the publisher and editor of KPA Journal; author and consultant for the US-Korea Institute at SAIS’s 38North and other related positions. Mr. Bermudez has consulted and lectured extensively in academic and government environments and worked as a consultant, both in the US and overseas. He has also testified before the United Nations and U.S. Congress as a subject matter expert concerning North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear, chemical and biological warfare programs, and the use of satellite imagery to monitor North Korean political prisoner camps.

Michael Madden is the author and editor of the website NK Leadership Watch, and is a Leadership Specialist at NK News Pro. NK Leadership Watch focuses on North Korea’s leadership and political culture and the political and military organizations and institutions under the leadership’s direct and indirect control including the Korean Worker’s Party (KWP), the National Defense Commission (NDC), and the North Korean government.

Curtis Melvin is the author and editor of North Korean Economy Watch since 2006 and is a researcher at the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University and a contributor to 38 North. Among other numerous research and analysis on North Korea, Curtis is a chief contributor to 38 North’s Digital Atlas, the most comprehensive satellite mapping project of North Korea. Curtis received his BBA in Economics from the University of Georgia and his MA in Economics from George Mason University. He is a doctoral candidate in Economics at George Mason University.

Asian Women in Leadership: A conversation with Florence Lowe-Lee and Jaehyang So

The U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS and the Sejong Society of Washington, D.C. proudly present
a roundtable conversation on Asian women in leadership.

Florence Lowe-Lee, President and Founder of the Global America Business Institute (GABI)
Jaehyang So, Director of Trust Funds and Partnerships at the World Bank

They will share with us their distinguished professional journey as well as any cultural barriers and leadership challenges they faced in their career.  This will be an opportunity to hear frank advice in their respective field in international consulting and international development.

Tuesday, May 21, 2015
Rome Building, Room 812
1619 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

Please RSVP here.

Light dinner will be served from 6:00-6:30 PM.  The session will begin sharply at 6:30 PM.

Ms. Florence Lowe-Lee is Founder and President of the Global America Business Institute (GABI) in Washington, DC. As President of GABI, she oversees the organization’s fellowship programs and education/outreach activities on nuclear and renewable energy issues. Since its establishment in May 2011, GABI has sought to inform policy circles in Washington, DC on various policy-relevant energy topics, with a focus on Korea’s energy situation, international civil nuclear cooperation, renewable energy R&D collaboration, and nuclear fuel cycle issues.

Previously, Ms. Lowe-Lee served as the Treasurer and Director of Finance and Publications at the Korea Economic Institute (KEI) for 19 years. At KEI, she was frequently interviewed by the U.S. and Korean media on current issues concerning U.S.-Korea bilateral relations. Ms. Lowe-Lee also organized and supervised programs involving senior officials from Korea and the United States, as well as visits by Korean government officials and National Assembly members.  She also worked as Deputy Director of Operations for the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee, where she participated in the senior committee decision-making process.

Ms. Lowe-Lee holds a B.A. in Neuroscience from Mount Holyoke College and received an M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.


Ms. Jaehyang So is the Director, Trust Funds and Partnerships at the World Bank. A Korean national, Ms. So joined the World Bank in 1992 as a Young Professional. She has worked throughout World Bank’s front line and corporate units focusing on privatization of utilities, financial and corporate restructuring of state owned enterprises, and infrastructure operations in East Asia, South Asia, Eastern and Central Asia, and Africa. Prior to her current position, Ms. So was the Manager of the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), one of the longest running global partnership programs of the World Bank, where she led the development and implementation of the program’s results management and monitoring systems and significantly leveraged the financial mobilization efforts and resources of the program. Ms. So has also served in selected corporate assignments throughout her career, including Adviser to the Managing Director, supporting the World Bank Group’s strategy, budget, and resource mobilization efforts. Prior to the World Bank, Ms. So was a corporate strategy consultant at Monitor Company, a management consultancy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, advising Fortune 100 level companies.