Frank Aum is the senior expert on Northeast Asia at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He oversees the Institute’s work on Northeast Asia and focuses on ways to strengthen diplomacy to reduce tensions and enhance peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. From 2010 to 2017, he worked at the Department of Defense, including as special counsel to the Army General Counsel, special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, and senior advisor on North Korea in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During this time, he advised four secretaries of defense on issues related to Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula. Aum also served as head of delegation for working level negotiations with the Republic of Korea on U.S.-ROK Alliance matters, and received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Aum previously worked as a corporate attorney, and also has extensive experience in the public and non-profit sectors. He completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Jeju Island, South Korea and worked as a speechwriter in the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In addition, he worked to strengthen the Koreatown community in Los Angeles at the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and the Korean American Coalition (KAC).

Aum received his bachelor's from Dartmouth College, his master's from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Publications By Frank

Incremental Denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula

Incremental Denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

By: Frank Aum;  Dr. Moon Chung-in

Tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula as many believe North Korea is planning to conduct the seventh nuclear weapons test in the country’s history and the first since 2017. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has warned of an “unprecedented joint response” and called on China — North Korea’s closest ally — to dissuade Pyongyang from going through with the test. Amid this troubling geopolitical environment, USIP’s Frank Aum discussed the prospects for peace on the Korean Peninsula with Yonsei University’s Dr. Moon Chung-in.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyConflict Analysis & Prevention

U.S.-North Korea-South Korea Youth Perspectives on Peace on the Korean Peninsula in 2050

U.S.-North Korea-South Korea Youth Perspectives on Peace on the Korean Peninsula in 2050

Monday, October 24, 2022

By: Frank Aum;  Paul Kyumin Lee

This paper describes a virtual workshop on envisioning peace on the Korean Peninsula for youth from the United States, North Korea, and South Korea that was conducted over three days in January 2021. The workshop was designed, organized, and facilitated by the United States Institute of Peace, and participants were selected in partnership with Liberty in North Korea and the International Student Conferences' Korea-America Student Conference.

Type: Discussion Paper

Conflict Analysis & PreventionYouth

Frank Aum on North Korea’s Provocations

Frank Aum on North Korea’s Provocations

Thursday, October 20, 2022

By: Frank Aum

The recent escalation in North Korean missile tests and military exercises is Pyongyang's attempt at gaining leverage over the United States, says USIP's Frank Aum: "They want to create a crisis in order to pressure the United States back into talks on [North Korea's] terms."

Type: Podcast

Could Climate Change Compel North Korea to Cooperate?

Could Climate Change Compel North Korea to Cooperate?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

By: Frank Aum;  Lucy Stevenson-Yang

Like much of the rest of the world, North Korea is experiencing more frequent and more intense climate-related disasters. In the last few years, it has seen its longest drought and longest rain season in over a century. In 2021, the country’s reclusive dictator, Kim Jong Un, called for immediate steps to mitigate the dramatic impacts of climate change, which compound other challenges facing the country, like food insecurity. While North Korea is not exactly known for its efforts to cooperate with the international community, the severe threats posed by climate change could lead to broader engagement that serves Pyongyang’s interests, as well as the interests of the United States, South Korea and China, who all want peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Environment

Mended Ties Between Japan and South Korea Would Boost Regional Security

Mended Ties Between Japan and South Korea Would Boost Regional Security

Thursday, July 28, 2022

By: Frank Aum

Relations between Japan and South Korea have soured in recent years after unresolved disputes re-emerged from acrimonious eras in their shared history. But the current leaders of the two East Asian countries have shown a willingness to rebuild ties. And amid North Korea’s nuclear rhetoric and China’s expanded aims in the region, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin’s recent trip to Japan serves as a welcomed first sign of a thaw in bilateral tensions. USIP’s Frank Aum looks at the state of South Korea-Japan relations, how they can be improved, and the geopolitical implications of continued tension amid the challenges posed by China and North Korea.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & DialogueGlobal Policy

View All