The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been developing nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and ballistic missile submarines. While numerous articles about the test launch activities and the ballistic missile submarines exist, there appears to be a lack of discussion on how the DPRK leadership might deploy their sea-based strategic assets. This report tries to initiate such a discussion and, through an analysis of the geographical and technological constraints associated with the DPRK’s submarines, to forecast the operation mode of the State’s future ballistic missile submarine fleet.
Littoral deployment in the Korean East Sea appears to be the best choice for the DPRK’s future ballistic missile submarine fleet.
If the DPRK leadership assesses that China would not allow anti-submarine warfare operations of the US and its allied forces on its doorstep, it might also consider deploying ballistic missile submarines or unconventional SLBM launch platforms tailored to the confined waters of the Korea Bay in the West Sea.