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Science can serve as an attractive mode for trust building and cooperative engagement between countries where formal political or diplomatic relations have been strained or are nonexistent. In this article we discuss some conditions and constraints for bilateral academic science engagement and suggest how such engagement might help to build trust between the United States and North Korea. We analyze longitudinal data on North Korea's diplomatic ties and international academic collaboration as well as US public opinion data to provide context for US-North Korea science engagement. We argue that bilateral academic science engagement should be attractive to the United States and North Korea and suggest a set of policy measures that might facilitate such engagement.