Examining the U.S. and North Korea's policy decision-making processes

Kim, Ey Soo
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2011]
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This study examines the U.S. and North Korea's policy decision-making processes during the first North Korea nuclear crisis in 1994 when the U.S. and North Korea came to the brink of war, putting the dread of enormous economic and political burden on the shoulders of the former and cornering the latter due to fear that the regime would collapse. One of the main purposes of this study is to examine how North Korea and the U.S. narrowly escaped from imminent military confrontation during this crisis, to contribute to diplomacy rather than military confrontation. To do this, prospect theory will be exploited to construct a cognitive model to (1) describe the situational context, (2) to explore and analyze the decision-making process shaping U.S. policy regarding North Korea, and (3) to interpret North Korea's nuclear policy, which repeated confrontation and engagement against the United States. For this, two theses using prospect theory will be compared in great depth. One was written by an American, Furches, who applied prospect theory to examine U.S. President Clinton's decisions in 1994 to use or not to use preventive force against North Korea. The other was written by a Korean, Hwang, who used prospect theory to analyze North Korea's nuclear policy during the first North Korean nuclear crisis in 1994. Both value prospect theory as an useful framework for examining U.S. and North Korea policy decision-making processes with a American or Korean perspective while trying to modify the theory either with the relevance of "rational choice" explanation or the way to emphasize domestic factors with two-level3 game theory.1 My study concludes that prospect theory is useful for explaining the complex decision-making processes of both the U.S. and North Korea around the nuclear crisis issue. However, this study also found that prospect theory needed to be more developed if it was to explain how the decision maker's selection of policies is made; the updated version of cumulative prospect theory is considered as a possible alternative. And as a way to analyze the decision-making processes this study examines the U.S. and North Korea face-saving processes during the first North Korea nuclear crisis, defining the meaning of "face" as the decision maker's reputation in both domestic and international relations situations. In addition, the face-saving process is understood as the process for the protection of face against expected face-losing. This study concludes that (1) decision makers' face perception is one of the most important factors for arriving at a final decision regardless of the domain area and then (2) situational face-saving process analysis is a value consideration that goes well beyond the specific situation, anticipating future situation.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
North Korea, decision-making processes, nuclear crisis
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Theses for the degree of Master of Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Political Science.
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