Fellow Spotlight

Pacific Forum Fellow Spotlight

Dong-hyeon Kim is a current resident Kelly fellow and former nonresident Korea Foundation fellow at Pacific Forum. Dong-hyeon’s research explores how the DPRK establishes and develops its nuclear doctrine over time, and more broadly what triggers the evolution of nuclear strategy among different nuclear weapon states. He received his MA in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts’ Fletcher School, and BA in English Literature from Korea University. Previously he worked as a coordinator for the Korea Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center, and as a Boston Correspondent of JoongAng Media Group interviewing scholars and practitioners on evolving issues of the Korean Peninsula. He served in the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army as a translator in G5 Future Operations, 2nd Infantry Division, United States Forces Korea and worked at the President’s Office of the ROK.

We asked Dong-hyeon a few questions about himself and his fellowship experience.

What are your research interests?

International security, nuclear security, nuclear strategy, East Asia, North Korea.

How did you hear about Pacific Forum and why did you apply to become a fellow?

Pacific Forum is a renowned think tank in U.S. and ROK. Numerous faculty and colleagues at Harvard Kennedy School, Tufts Fletcher School and Korea University recommended me to apply for a fellowship at Pacific Forum. I applied to become a fellow to conduct full-time research based on my own interests. The fellowship offers young scholars full autonomy to pursue a research agenda, a very rare opportunity in the U.S. and globally.

Briefly describe the research project you are undertaking as a Pacific Forum fellow:

As a Pacific Forum fellow, I am working on North Korean nuclear strategy based on publicly available sources and its implications for deterrence and denuclearization. I am reviewing original North Korean documents with reference to nuclear weapons and their role from Kim Il-sung to Kim Jong-un.

Describe a Pacific Forum conference you attended and how it helped you in your career:

In September 2019, I attended US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Strategic Dialogue organized by Pacific Forum. The dialogue not only offered an opportunity to sit in for candid conversation among policy makers and academics, but also a chance to present my ongoing research to senior academics and policy makers. Correspondence with academic and policy makers over the course of dialogue helped me to sharpen my research agenda.

Share something you read recently that you enjoyed:

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and The Zimmerman Telegram by Barbara Tuchman. Both pieces of historical fiction brought me to the very moment of the U.S. Civil War and the days leading up to the breakout of World War I.

What are your future plans?

In the long term, I would like to contribute to advancing our understanding of nuclear strategy and preventing nuclear war. In order to do that, I plan to get a Ph.D. in political science and become a professor within next 10 years.

What is a fun fact about you?

Occasionally I get to talk to current and former head of states in my dreams. I spoke to George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Lee Myung-bak, Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in. Most recently, I spoke to Kim Jong-un.

Recent publications:

Issues & Insights Vol. 19, WP11: Evolving DPRK Nuclear Doctrine