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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) 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) 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) 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) 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 »

Ban Seok Choi: A Soldier’s Reflection on South Korea’s Contribution to Global Peacekeeping Operations

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
ROK-UNMISS-PKO United Nations peacekeepers from South Korea secure an airport in Bor on March 15, 2014 (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ban Seok Choi served as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force in South Sudan with the South Korean military. He finished his military service—which is mandatory for South Korean men—earlier this month. Read more »

Roberta Cohen: Moving Forward on North Korean Human Rights

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
un-human-rights-council-north-korea Michael Kirby (on screen), chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, delivers his remarks during the presentation of his report on North Korea during a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva on March 17, 2014 (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy: Reuters).

Roberta Cohen is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, specializing in human rights and humanitarian issues.

“Now is the time to act,” the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the DPRK announced after issuing a 400-page report documenting a wide array of “unspeakable atrocities” in North Korea constituting “crimes against humanity.” For decades, the international community has largely sidestepped its responsibility to hold North Korea to account. Read more »

Bruce Bechtol: Nukes Aren’t the Only Weapons in North Korea

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
north-korea-mid-range-missile Models of a North Korean Scud-B missile (right) and South Korean missiles are displayed at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul in this photo from March 2012. In February and March 2014, North Korea continued to maintain its ballistic missile capabilities with a series of test launches off its east coast (Lee Jae-Won/Courtesy: Reuters).

Bruce E. Bechtol, Jr., is associate professor of political science at Angelo State University and president of the International Council on Korean Studies.  His is the author of North Korea and Regional Security in the Kim Jong-un Era.

During the latter part of February, North Korea conducted test launches of a new long-range 300 mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL) system. These launches from North Korea’s east coast were followed up by still more launches in following weeks. Since then, North Korea has launched Scud missiles from its east coast, 300 mm MRLs, 240 mm MRLs, and Free Rocket Over Ground (FROG) systems. This week, North Korea launched Rodong ballistic missiles.  All systems were launched from the east coast, and all tests were conducted even as North Korea appeared to be moving toward a more reasonable attitude toward the United States and its neighbor to the South. Read more »

Sean Connell: Korea’s Creative Approach to Economic Competitiveness

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
park-at-davos President of South Korea Park Geun-hye advocated her “creative economy” vision during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 22, 2014 (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters).

Sean Connell is a recent POSCO Visiting Fellow and Japan Studies Fellow at the East-West Center, and director of trade and economic development of the Snohomish County Government, Washington State.  This post draws on the author’s paper “Creating Korea’s Future Economy: Innovation, Growth, and Korea-U.S. Economic Relations,” which appeared in the East-West Center’s AsiaPacific Issues, No. 111. The views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of any organization with which the author is affiliated. Read more »