University of Pittsburgh
May 1, 2013

University of Pittsburgh Experts Available to Discuss North Korea

Contact:  412-624-4147
  • Missile holdings, viable targets 
  • Tough options for a militarily “overcommitted” United States
  • Dynamics in the event of a nuclear crisis
  • Pitt librarian available to discuss University’s unique collection of North Korean books, films, and a recording of a pop band established by the late leader Kim Jong-il

PITTSBURGH—When President Obama meets with South Korean president Park Geun-hye May 7, talk is expected to turn to North Korea and the continuing search for a diplomatic solution to the isolated nation’s aggressive behavior on the world stage.

The University of Pittsburgh has several experts available to discuss North Korea’s missile capabilities, the roots of the nation’s conflicts with its neighbors, and U.S. defense policy in the event of North Korean aggression. Pitt’s University Library System also houses a substantial collection of materials from North Korea, providing a rare glimpse into the culture and people of this isolated and secretive nation.

Missile holdings, viable targets

Dennis Gormley, a senior lecturer in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, is available to speak about North Korea's missile holdings and which countries might be threatened by the North Korean arsenal.

Gormley served for 10 years in the U.S. intelligence community; 20 years as a senior officer and board member of a consulting company focusing on international security, arms control, and weapons proliferation; and 10 years as a senior fellow with U.S. and internationally prominent think tanks. He has published widely on cruise and ballistic missile technology, nuclear disarmament, and U.S. strategies in the face of nuclear war. Gormley also serves on various advisory committees in Washington, D.C., dealing with nuclear arms control and the use of armed drones and the consequences of their proliferation; he has testified before Congress numerous times.

“North Korea’s capacity to threaten the United States is virtually nonexistent at the moment, and in my estimation such a capacity is not something that’s going to develop quickly,” Gormley said, noting that tests of North Korea’s Taepodong-2 missiles, which could conceivably reach the U.S. mainland or Alaska, have so far failed. “If they wanted to begin a war, I think they’d choose the systems that they have more comfort with. Probably the most proficient missiles existing in North Korea’s arsenal are shorter-range ones, simply because the technology is easier to develop. Its arsenal probably consists of about 200 of these shorter-range systems that could reach Japan and South Korea.”

Dennis Gormley can be reached at 703-472-1888 or

Tough options for a militarily “overcommitted” United States

Donald Goldstein, professor emeritus in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, is available to discuss the sources of North Korea’s conflicts with its neighbors, the 1950-53 Korean War, and U.S. defense policy as it relates to the Korean Peninsula.

Goldstein has published two books on Korea, The Korean War (Potomac Books, Inc., 2001) and Security in Korea (Westview Press, 1994). For more than 30 years at Pitt he taught courses on U.S. defense policy, and his 22 years’ service in the U.S. Air Force included a brief stint in Korea immediately following the Korean War.

“The problem we have is that if the North Koreans start coming across that border [the Korean Demilitarized Zone, near the 38th parallel], it’s going to be tough to stop them,” Goldstein said. Because of U.S. troop commitments across the world, Goldstein said, “It would have to be a South Korean war with us supporting them. We’re overcommitted.”

He added, “If we let North Korea get away with this stuff, Iran’s going to be emboldened. You’ve got to give Kim Jong-un a way out because he’s talking so much.”

Donald Goldstein can be reached at 352-391-1135, 412-417-9812 (cell), or

Dynamics in the event of a nuclear crisis

Ryan Grauer, an assistant professor in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, is available to discuss nuclear dynamics, East Asian geopolitics, and how a potential nuclear crisis might play out. His Pitt courses cover these topics, as well as security and intelligence studies, including units on nuclear strategy and crisis dynamics. Additionally, he has written on the 1950-53 Korean War and can speak about the core divisions between North and South Korea.

“I think one of the key things that carries through from the Korean War is that the North Korean forces have always been highly centralized,” Grauer said. “I think it’s highly unlikely that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon, but if it does, it will be Kim Jong-un’s decision, not the result of some ambitious North Korean officer taking the initiative and acting on his own.”

Ryan Grauer can be reached at 402-650-2641 or

Pitt librarian available to discuss University’s unique collection of North Korean books, films, and a recording of pop band established by the late leader Kim Jong-il

Xiuying Zou, public services librarian of Pitt’s East Asian Library, curates the University Library System’s Korean collection, which includes a significant number of items from North Korea. The unique collection of North Korean materials was established in 2003 through a partnership with Yanbian University, a Chinese university close to China’s border with North Korea—a necessary partnership, as North Korea will not sell its printed materials to U.S. institutions.

Zou is available to discuss the library’s collection, its singular strengths compared to peer institutions, and the process by which the materials have been assembled.

“Pitt holds 64 North Korean academic journals, including 2,500 issues,” Zou said, covering topics such as pediatrics, Korean traditional medicine, electronics, and mechanical engineering. Pitt’s holdings include a number of journal titles held only by Pitt, or by only one or two other U.S. libraries, among them the Library of Congress and the libraries of Harvard University and Columbia University.

The collection demonstrates the rich variety of life and culture inside the reclusive nation, housing a number of DVDs, including movies such as Flower Girl (1972), Unknown Hero (1978-81), O Youth! (1994), and A Family Basketball Team (1998) and documentaries such as Women Soccer Stars of Songun Korea (2008). A number of music CDs are also in the collection, Zou said, including theme music from North Korean television series, karaoke soundtracks, and recordings by the Wangjaesan Light Music Band, a popular music group established by late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.   

Xiuying Zou can be reached at 412-648-7781 or Visit for more information about the University Library System’s Korean collection.