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A Summary of Thoughts on Useful Tools for North Korean Studies' Part 1 - Mathematical Models'

Translated by Hyunju Ban, NKR Intern

There is currently a diverse range of tools used by social scientists to analyze and understand their areas of interest. Among those, the tools that are familiar to me and relevant to North Korean studies will be discussed briefly. As Professor Ian Shapiro from Yale University asserted, the first step is to identify an issue of importance, and then use the most appropriate tool to analyze, understand, predict and solve the issue at hand. I believe that in regards to North Korean related matters, it is comparatively clear what the most valuable and important issues are, and I intend to publish on these issues to different media outlets in the future. Professor Bruce Bueno de Mesquita from New York University stated that to propose a theory or claim, there must be effort put into making sure the process is logical, and many will agree that it requires evidence from social science. In that case, are mathematical models a useful tool for North Korean studies?

Although there are many different types of mathematical models, the game theory model is probably most commonly used in social science. As reiterated in game theory textbooks, models that use game theory are helpful tools for a logical analysis of strategic interactions. Mathematical models that use game theory are one of the most appropriate tools for logically developing theories and claims in social science. However, to enable mathematical analysis, mathematical models should be made to be concise and display a high level of technical completion.

First and foremost, insight into the main point of the relevant issue must be accurate in order to represent an abstraction of reality. Such insight, when combined with the appropriate establishment and technical mastery, produces a situation in which models with game theory can be excellent tools. Although theories and claims can be logically developed through intuition, it is only through mathematical models that claims, which seem intuitively correct, can be proven logically correct. It may occasionally be the case that claims that appeal to common sense are logically flawed. Hence, it would be beneficial if the use of mathematical models became more widespread. Likewise, certain areas within North Korean studies will also benefit from this tool. However, as this shift is easier said than done, all we can do is to put as much effort into the process as possible.

Computer simulations can be considered a type of mathematical model in a way. Issues where the answer is difficult to identity can benefit from utilizing computer programs. There are a variety of simulations and agent-based modeling in particular that differs from other simulations for its process of emergence. I intend to elaborate on the uses of these simulations in a future installment.

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