The Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS) traces its beginnings to the Research Institute for International Affairs (RIIA), which was established on September 1, 1977, to conduct a comprehensive research on international relations and national security affairs. The RIIA was renamed the Research Institute for International Economy in 1998 and reorganized as the Center for 21st Strategy and Research, the Research Institute for International Affairs in 2000.
In 2004, a part of the Research Institute for National Security Policy and the Research Institute for Unification Policy merged to form the RIIA and was newly transformed into the INSS of today after absorbing the Research Institute for National Security and Unification Policy in 2007. The RIIA, the now-defunct institute, has over the last thirty years contributed to landmark achievements in a variety of fields such as international politics and economy, military and national security affairs and inter-Korean issues, while bearing many difficulties under the then poor environment and conditions for research.

The RIIA was founded in the late 1970s, when the South and North Koreas were sharply facing each other, South Vietnam was defeated by the communist North Vietnam and resource nationalism was in full swing in the wake of the first oil crisis. The RIIA has thus made a great contribution to the revitalization of international and unification affairs and research on the matters of North Korea, while paving the way for research on national security strategy, whose previous environment was recognized as nothing better than a barren ground at the time.

In 1977, the year when the RIIA was established, there were government-funded economic research institutes such as the Korea Development Institute (KDI) and the Institute for International Economy. However, there were not any corporation-type institute related to international politics and national security affairs, except for the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses under the National Defense College (NDC). As such, the RIIA was established as a non-profit corporation with then poor research environment and condition concerning international politics and national security affairs. The RIIA initially focused on middle- and long- term policy tasks related to national security affairs and foreign strategies as well as on offering timely and relevant policy alternatives.

The 1970s was a period when even university libraries, not to mention individual scholars, were not able to purchase overseas newspapers, magazines and academic journals concerning the rapidly changing international situation and trends, mainly because of financial difficulties. Under the dire situation, the RIIA started publishing a weekly edition of The Weekly Materials for International Information, which carried the excerpts of major foreign journals, newspaper columns or analysis articles related to the international situation and Korean peninsula, translated in Korean. The Weekly was estimated to have helped many college professors, experts and college students understand the changes of the international situation and sharpen their research on international relations. In particular, The Journal of East Asian Affairs, an English academic journal, which was initially published by the now-defunct RIIA since 1981, is widely accredited as a high quality journal in the field of regional research on East Asia as well as on the Korean national security affairs.

We also feel proud that the Institute for National Security Policy and the Institute for Unification Policy, established in the 1990s respectively, marked a new milestone in the in-depth research on national security policy and the matters of North Korea and unification, albeit their short period of history. For the last thirty years, the Research Institute for National Security Policy, the Research Institute for Unification Policy and the RIIA have all made remarkable achievements and performance, although from time to time they went through difficult times. Numerous caliber researchers who previously worked at these institutes are currently playing an active and leading role in a variety of fields ranging from politics to academia, business and government circles. Since 1996, the Institute of North Korean Studies, the previous organization of the Institute for Unification Policy, began issuing Materials for North Korean Policy, which systematically categorized relevant subjects from the original materials originating from North Korea, such as the Rodong Shinmun, clips from radio and TV and official announcement materials.

It has been used as an invaluable reference in studying North Korea. The INSS will open another chapter of a new research. Just as people in their thirties enjoy the golden opportunity of life, the INSS will be reborn as a comprehensive research center, which, based on a breadth of the thirty-year-experience and the ever-accumulated research caliber, is likely to offer timely and relevant policy choices so as to make an in-depth balanced research on the national security strategy of South Korea and to promote peaceful unification and national interests.