System Dynamics as a Foreign Policy Tool to Resolve the North Korean Dilemma

  • Brendon Cagney
  • Ernest Wong Army Cyber Institute United States Military Academy West Point, NY 10996, USA


Since its establishment as a nation-state after World War II, North Korea has undermined regional stability and has increased the threat to global security. The North Korean regime has shown time and time again that it will stop at nothing to maintain its power and portray itself as a strong and prosperous nation. Today the worry over North Korea extends well beyond its substantial conventional firepower—its asymmetric gains in chemical, biological, nuclear, and cyber warfare capabilities have given rise to a new set of complexities that frustrate international accord. Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s current Supreme Leader, has pressed vehemently against the challenges he perceives from adversaries, both foreign as well as domestic, in order to promote his nation’s self-interest. As a consequence, the international community typically responds in kind with political and economic sanctions intended to curb further North Korean provocations. However, history has repeatedly shown how such sanctions serve as merely temporary measures that postpone continued advances in North Korea’s military effectiveness. In this paper, the authors leverage system dynamics to better characterize the current situation in North Korea and attempt to provide useful insights into understanding why the Kim Jong-Un regime behaves in the way that it does. By doing so, the authors encourage policy makers to employ system dynamics as a foreign policy tool to come up with more effective ideas and solutions for dealing with today’s North Korean dilemma.


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How to Cite
Cagney, B., & Wong, E. (2017). System Dynamics as a Foreign Policy Tool to Resolve the North Korean Dilemma. Industrial and Systems Engineering Review, 5(2), 145-152.