Social Media Insights: #NorthKorea on Twitter


North Korea – United States relations have been historically hostile and developed primarily during the Korean War. For the past few years, their relations have been largely defined by North Korea nuclear weapons test, its development of long-range missiles capable of striking targets the lands of America, and its ongoing threats to strike the United States and South Korea with nuclear weapons and conventional forces.

Yet, a historically turning point appeared on April 27 of 2018, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walked across the border and met South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Both declared their hope to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons and to formally end the war that started nearly 68 years ago (Jeffery, 2018). At the same time Donald Trump, the president of the United States has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to ease nuclear tensions with North Korea.

This blog article would like to examine the Twitter activity on North Korea issue by using hashtag #NorthKorea. And to see what kinds of social data and insights we can generate from.


The selection of hashtags. TAGS. The script ran daily from April 22 to April 26 of 2018. The raw dataset has 14,711 unique tweets. The data cleaning procedure excluded retweets and tweets that serve as quoting. A subset of 3,078 tweets were then selected for analyses, representing 30% of directed conversations for each hashtag.

Tweet Over Time_Day

Tweet Over Time_Hour.jpg

In terms of Day, we can see 25 April has the highest number of Tweets exposure, especially for re-tweet posts. It is expected people were discussing about North Korea and. In terms of Hour, number of re-tweet has shown a steady growth after 12:00 and increased drastically between 18:00 to 21:00. In social media world, people tend to be active during lunch time and the evening to post a tweet, so the graph makes sense to show such a conclusion. Besides, people tend to watch news report between 18:00 to 21:00, so it can trigger people to retweet related posts or make original tweets regarding news on North Korea.

Retweets can show the most prominent tweets in the dataset. Below are the Top 10 Retweets which reflects Twitter users found most worthy of sharing.

Retweets (1).jpg

Apart from key opinion leaders who dominate the discussion, one may have a question on whether we can explore which accounts provide first hand news on North Korea? To answer this question, we can dig out the User Activity on Twitter.

User Activity (1).jpg

In the graph, one can pay attention to @nknewsorg, @NKOutlook and @TheKoreaHerald, those accounts got a high degree of activity because they generate daily news focuses on North Korea. Like NK News is an independent, privately owned specialist information source that focuses on North Korea. For student studying communications and journalism, such diagram allows us to understand which Korean media organizations provide first hand and official information. To conclude, Korean media makes lots of contribution on providing handful news which have influential effects on the information flow on Twitter.




Keywords related to North Korea found are #Nuclear, #Trump, #President to the United States, #Dictator, #Peacemaker etc. Therefore, we can expect that tweets are categorized into three topics: 1) nuclear threat, 2) tension between The U.S. and North Korea 3) and people’s perceptions towards the leaders by using positive phrase #peacemaker or negative word #dictator. Of course, we cannot assume who is the new “dictator” and “peacemaker” in this sense.



Rather than those popular accounts discussed above, here I would like to highlight the interaction between some U.S. organizations and professionals. The below Gephi’s graph may give us a diverse picture towards the discussion on nuclear weapons.


@plough_shares is the biggest node. This account refers to Ploughshares Fund, which is a public grantmaking foundation that supports initiatives to prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons, and to prevent conflicts that could lead to their use.

@PSFunderGroup refers to The Peace and Security Funders Group, is a network of public, private and family foundations, and individual philanthropists who make grants or expenditures that contribute to peace and global security.

@NuclearWilson is registered by Geoff Wilson. He is the Grants and Donor Communications Manager at Ploughshares Fund

@ClancyReports is registered by Jim Clancy. He is an international journalist in U.S. with large number of followers

@DavidRomeiPHD belongs to Dr. David Romei He is a scholar, writer and also international radio co-host “Issues Today”

In terms of interactions, we can see that knowledgeable individuals like scholars and news reporters tend to share opinions from official organizations.



To sum up, one can see those U.S. influencers dominants with large number of retweets. But speaking about user activity, still one can draw a conclusion that most of the handful information are provided by big Korea media. Besides. Also, tension between U.S and North Korea is the hottest topic on Twitter and people are suspicious towards nuclear threat and the role of U.S. This finding is based on related keywords searched on Voyant and content analysis.

Yet, the research topic has its limitations. First, users are mainly from U.S. which neglects users’ opinions from South Korea or China. Second, important accounts are invisible like government members from U.S. or South Korea.

1/ Adam Jeffery (27 April 2018). Photos of the historic summit between North Korea and South Korea. CNBC News. Retrieved from
2/ Chang Sup Park (July 2013). Does Twitter motivate involvement in politics? Tweeting, opinion leadership, and political engagement. Article in Computers in Human Behavior. College of Mass Communication and Media Arts,Southern Illinois University Carbondale,United States
3/ Wenlin Liu, Anupreet Sidhu, Amanda M.Beacom and Thomas W. Valente (2017). Social Networking Theory. University of South California, USA
4/ Kimberly A. Neuendorf (2017). The Content Analysis Guidebook. Cleveland State University
5/ Ploughshares Fund. Offical website. Retrieved from
6/ Peace and Security Funders Group. Official website. Retrieved from