Shock score: 2


On a scale of 1-10, rates the prospect for big change on the Korean peninsula. Big change is an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons pursuit and the opening of its borders.

Our initial rating was a 3, meaning the prospect for a big change is low. We raised the rating to 4 on April 8, the day the White House announced that Pyongyang had been in touch and officially confirmed willingness to meet. We raised it again to 6 on April 17, the day the White House revealed that Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang and met Kim Jong Un as a preliminary meeting for a summit. We lowered it to 2 on May 16 after North Korea made statements threatening to cancel a summit. The threat wasn’t the problem but Pyongyang made clear that day that was no interested in arms-for-cash deal, a signal that the prospect for a disarmament deal was small and that there is no real hope for strategic, substantive change that would lead to an opening of borders or better life for North Koreans.

Our view is that, even if a summit happens, the chance for the U.S. to successfully negotiate a big change is very small.