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Analysis of relationship between North and South through game theory

North Korea’s diplomatic behaviors often tend to be irrational, and highly conducted in an unexpected ways that make other countries hard to comprehend. Their inconsistent actions include abrupt withdrawal of treaties (ex. Non proliferation Treaty), sudden missile tests against neighboring countries such as Japan or South Korea, their occasional positive engagement with those countries, but most significantly, their abrupt bombing as a means of provocation, exclusively towards South Korea. North Korea has several histories of bombing South Korea (for example, bombing a Korean jet liner right after the Seoul Olympics in 1988), but one of the pretty recent bombardment, The Bombardment of Yeonpyeong occurred on 23rd November in 2010 is the incident which caused significant escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula since the 1953 armistice which ended the Korean War. The bombardment prompted widespread international condemnation of North’s action since the shelling (firing around 170 artillery shells and rockets) targeting toward both military and civilians caused extensive damage on the island and people.

After the bombardment of Yeonpyeong, a lot of people were interested in how the situation would develop in terms of the relationship between North and South, and also how South will respond. I think this is where the game theory could be useful to analyze the relationship.

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This table shows how North and South can take a certain stance and the result from taking that position. According to the table, for the case of B, (North firm, South moderate), the payoff is (S -10, N 10). And among A,B,C and D, this payoff of 10 is the maximum payoff for North. However, North has to become assured confident that in any case South would be moderate in taking action. If South also take a tough stance against North, the case of A will produce North the payoff of -100. And for right now, North is quite confident that this will hardly happen. If South really confront North and take a firm stance, it will develop into an armed conflict and enter a full-scale military collision. According to the table again, the case of A indicate that South will be damaged with the payoff of -500. Furthermore, North is clearly aware of the fact that it is almost unrealistic for South to choose a firm stance due to the characteristics of South’s established democratic system. Consequently, North will choose to be firm, leading South with the choices of A and B, and South will be obliged to choose B, as they always did. This is not just for this case, but North and South have always continued to maintain their relationship in similar way. People describe this relationship as “tributing” South while being beaten and “awarded” North while beating. Since then, until recently, North has been taking almost a single path of being firm, and I think that is because they sensed a change of South new government’s groping to seek a change in this chronic relationship.

People are seeking ways to move North’s stance, either to choose case 4 or, some people claim that the payoffs in the table mentioned above could be changed, as things (relationship with other countries, military power etc) consistently change.

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