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This article emphasizes the importance of ‘face-saving’ and ‘reference point’ in understanding North Korea’s strategic assessment. The concept of face-saving has been often discussed in explaining North Korea’s negotiating behavior. The regime is known to fight because it prefers to save face, which somewhat explains Pyongyang’s aggressiveness and brinkmanship even when it is in a disadvantageous position. Nevertheless, North Korea rarely sacrifices its strategic benefit. Both saving face and gaining benefit are important to the North Korean regime. But which takes precedence? In order to explain the North Korean rationality, this article hypothesizes that North Korea’s face-saving is closely connected with its attempts to gain benefits. In other words, the North Korean regime is more likely to feel humiliated and lose face when it believes that it has failed to gain the benefit originally expected. This article examines the concept of ‘reference point’, arguing that recognizing Pyongyang’s reference point provides a better picture of its internal and external perception and behavior.