In this research I propose that the concept of diversionary theory provides at least a partial explanation for North Korea’s conflict activities. I examine and analyze the country’s data on diplomatic and military activities from 1997 to 2011 and argue that North Korea’s domestic conditions influence its willingness to engage in external conflict. I also examine the impact of such external influences as UN sanctions, leadership changes in the region, national capacities of the US, South Korea and Japan, and strategic military exercises on DPRK-initiated conflicts. This study provides insight into the activities of this reclusive state and also demonstrates useful techniques that can be applied to analyze other similarly closed nations. The findings suggest that there are identified links between internal conditions and the Kim regime’s aggressive actions between 1997 and 2011 in support of the diversionary argument. Concurrently, there is less evidence that North Korea’s hostile diplomatic and military activities are based on external pressures.

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