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New Report: The Korean Pivot and the Return of Great Power Politics in Northeast Asia

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld points to a satellite image of the Korean peninsula as he briefs the media at the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., November 1, 2005. Rumsfeld compared the availability of electric energy between the two Koreas and U.S. military presence in South Korea. (Courtesy REUTERS/Mannie Garcia)

Sungtae “Jacky” Park is research associate for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is a preview of his recently published Atlantic Council report, The Korean Pivot and the Return of Great Power Politics in Northeast Asia. The views expressed in the report are his own and his own only. Read the full report here. Read more »

How Korea Can Lead on Climate Change

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul October 23, 2012. The Institute, launched in 2010 to promote green economic growth strategies, was upgraded last week to the status of an international organisation, reported local media. (REUTERS/Jung Yeon-je/Pool)

Note: Asia Unbound is reposting this blog today, as it was supposed to be published this week, not last week when this piece was first published.

Jill Kosch O’Donnell is an independent researcher and writer.

The global climate talks underway in Paris this week, aimed at achieving a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, represent a milestone in an evolving approach to these annual UN-led negotiations. Formerly focused on haggling over developed country targets for emissions reductions, they now emphasize action by all countries, which were supposed to submit national climate change plans ahead of time, known as “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs). This new modus operandi presents an opening for Korea to assert itself as a middle power, drawing on its dual identity as a developing country and an OECD member. But it will not be through the country’s INDC. Read more »

Using PSYOP against North Korea

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A South Korean soldier works to remove loudspeakers set up for propaganda purposes near the demiltarized zone in Paju, about 55km (34 miles) north of Seoul June 16, 2004. North and South Korea stopped blaring propaganda at each other across the fortified demilitarised zone border on Tuesday to mark the fourth anniversary of a landmark summit between their leaders. (Courtesy Reuters/You Sung-Ho)

Andrew Injoo Park is is a former intern for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this blog are Mr. Park’s own and do not reflect those of CFR or its staff and members. CFR takes no institutional stance and prizes independence for the organization’s members and staff. Read more »

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: An Opportunity for Niche Diplomacy by Middle-Power Korea

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's President Park Geun-hye addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2014. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Brendan Howe is a professor at Ewha Womans University’s Graduate School of International Studies.

From September 25 to 27, South Korean President Park Geun-hye will be attending the United Nations (UN) Development Summit in New York, where she will be giving the keynote address. Much of the summit will focus on the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs are a set of proposals that look to build on two high profile international governance agendas: [1] international development cooperation, dominated since 2000 by the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire at the end of 2015; and [2] twenty years of environmental cooperation since the landmark United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Read more »

Will South Korean Nuclear Leadership Make a Difference in 2016?

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak (L) reaches out to shake the hand of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano as he arrives for a working dinner at the Nuclear Security Summit at the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) in Seoul March 26, 2012. (Yuriko Nakao/Courtesy Reuters)

Toby Dalton is the co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced this week that the Republic of Korea will chair the December 2016 ministerial meeting on nuclear security in Vienna, Austria. South Korea will also chair the forty-eight-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) next year and is slated to host the group’s annual plenary meeting in Seoul. 2016 is shaping up to be a critical year for South Korea’s nuclear diplomacy. Read more »

Korea and the AIIB

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the Korea China Investment Forum at a hotel in Seoul on July 4, 2014. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters)

Min Hyung Kang is a former intern for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea’s decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member reminded observers of Korea’s place as a middle power caught between great powers. Korea’s interest in joining the AIIB is indicative of improving Korea-China relations, one of the determinants for security of the Korean peninsula. However, to the United States, South Korea’s strongest ally, Korea’s involvement in the AIIB may not be very pleasing especially when the AIIB seems like a mechanism designed to oppose U.S. influence in Asia. It seems that Korea is at a critical moment that may either extensively benefit or severely undermine its national interest. Read more »

Stories of Ordinary North Koreans and Human Rights

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A woman holding an umbrella walks past near damaged houses by flooding in Kujang district, in the province of North Pyongan, in this photo taken on August 28, 2012. (Courtesy: Reuters)

Darcie Draudt is a research associate for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Last Thursday at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the U.S. delegation convened a meeting on the human rights situation in North Korea that featured testimony of North Korean escapees. The event was part of North Korean Freedom Week, hosted annually since 2004 by a coalition of U.S. and South Korean NGOs focused on increasing awareness and mobilizing action to promote freedom for the North Korean people. The UN meeting took a turn when the testifiers were interrupted by a statement the DPRK delegation, who had previously been assured they would have an opportunity to speak following the defectors and faced vehement objections most notably from U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. Read more »

Korea’s Immigration Policy Backlash

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
Women of diverse ethnic backgrounds in traditional Korean costume participate in a traditional Confucian ceremony celebrating the Coming-Of-Age Day in front of Seoul City Hall in this file photo from May 19, 2008. (Jo Yong-Hak/Courtesy: Reuters)

Darcie Draudt is a research associate for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Late last month, the South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family presented an open discussion titled “Changes and Alternative Models in the Korean Multicultural Family Policy Paradigm.” Speaking to Yonhap news about the need for the event, Yonsei University Anthropology Professor Kim Hyun-mi said that in the process of viewing the multicultural families as a vulnerable social group, the South Korean government’s welfare programs have led to reverse discrimination and xenophobia due to what many South Koreans perceive as preferential treatment and disruption in the monoethnic social fabric. Read more »

Darcie Draudt: South Korean Multiculturalism and the Next Step in Civic Nationalism

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
seoul women's migrant center Foreign brides from Vietnam take part in a Korean conversation class at the Women Migrants Human Rights Centre in Seoul in this photo from May 27, 2008 (Jo Yong-Hak/Courtesy: Reuters).

Darcie Draudt is a research associate for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On September 29, the United Nations special rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, began the first-ever official UN Human Rights Council mission to South Korea. Ruteere is scheduled to present his preliminary findings at a press conference on October 6, at the end of his visit. South Korea has increasingly aroused scrutiny for its myopic depiction of foreigners in media and treatment of foreigners in workplaces and public spaces. But the situation is more complicated than meets the eye, and the special rapporteur is likely to find a nation confronted with new, unfamiliar choices in defining itself as it continues to deepen and broaden exchange on the global stage. Read more »

Darcie Draudt: The Sewol Controversy and Parliamentary Deadlock in South Korea

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
sewol-response Police officers stand guard at a pier, as yellow ribbons dedicated to missing and dead passengers on board the capsized Sewol ferry are tied to its handrails, at a port in Jindo on April 28, 2014 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy: Reuters).

Darcie Draudt is a research associate for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s main opposition party, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), began a sit-in in support of a controversial bill that aims to organize an investigation into April’s Sewol Ferry incident. The bill, proposed in July by NPAD representative Jeon Hae-cheol, stipulates compensation for victims and their families. This bill also includes plans for an investigatory committee that would be comprised of civilians, which the ruling Saenuri Party argues is unconstitutional. Read more »