CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Inter-Korean Relations"

South Korea’s Nuclear Debate and the Credibility of U.S. Extended Deterrence

by Scott A. Snyder
The guided missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG62) are seen at a South Korean naval port in Donghae, about 190 km (118 miles) east of Seoul, March 9, 2013. (South Korean Navy/courtesy Reuters) The guided missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG62) are seen at a South Korean naval port in Donghae, about 190 km (118 miles) east of Seoul, March 9, 2013. (South Korean Navy/courtesy Reuters)

North Korea’s third nuclear test last month unleashed an active South Korean debate on nuclear weapons acquisition along with calls for the reintroduction of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to deter and strengthen the U.S. and ROK position in nuclear negotiations. (The debate was nicely summarized here by Toby Dalton and Yoon Ho-jin). South Korea has also displayed its determination to counter any perceived North Korean advantage that might allow it to use nuclear blackmail against South Korea.  As the decibel level of North Korea’s threats has reached unprecedented levels, South Korea has also shown a grim determination to match North Korea’s threats with its own clear and specific signals of resolve. Read more »

UN Sanctions and North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
Members of the United Nations Security Council vote to tighten sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, March 7, 2013. In response to North Korea's third nuclear test, the U.N. Security Council voted on Thursday to tighten financial restrictions on Pyongyang and crack down on its attempts to ship and receive banned cargo in breach of U.N. sanctions. (Brendan McDermid/courtesy Reuters) Members of the United Nations Security Council vote to tighten sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, March 7, 2013. In response to North Korea's third nuclear test, the U.N. Security Council voted on Thursday to tighten financial restrictions on Pyongyang and crack down on its attempts to ship and receive banned cargo in breach of U.N. sanctions. (Brendan McDermid/courtesy Reuters)

The unanimous passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2094 builds on prior UN Security Council resolutions 1695, 1718, 1874, and 2087 in opposing North Korea’s drive to expand its nuclear and missile delivery capabilities.  Each of the UN Security Council resolutions were passed following North Korean long-range rocket launches or nuclear tests.  These resolutions were designed to cut off flows of nuclear and missile technologies between North Korea and the outside world and to signal international disapproval of North Korea’s nuclear-related activities. Read more »

Presidential Inbox: A Strategy to Counter North Korea’s Nuclear Defiance

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. President Obama speaks during a joint news conference with South Korea's President Lee at the Blue House in Seoul. (Yuriko Nakao/courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Obama speaks during a joint news conference with South Korea's President Lee at the Blue House in Seoul. (Yuriko Nakao/courtesy Reuters)

Mr. President, your first administration played “small ball” with North Korea. The policy of “strategic patience” succeeded in weathering North Korean provocations and limited exposure to the political risks that would have accompanied a high profile effort to address North Korea’s nuclear development.  However, the crime and punishment approach to North Korea’s 2009 satellite launch and nuclear test through UN Security Council sanctions, statements, and resolutions has failed to stop North Korea’s growing nuclear and long-range delivery capabilities. Read more »

A New Opportunity for China-South Korea Relations Under Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping?

by Scott A. Snyder
China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhang shakes hands with South Korea's conservative President-elect Park during their meeting at her office in Seoul. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters) China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhang shakes hands with South Korea's conservative President-elect Park during their meeting at her office in Seoul. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters)

Following an early ambassadorial visit and a courtesy call on President-elect Park Geun-hye from China’s special envoy Vice Minister Zhang Zhijun, Park has decided to reciprocate by sending her first special envoys to Beijing during the transition. The exchange illustrates a mutual recognition that Sino-South Korean relations had deteriorated under Lee Myung-Bak and Hu Jintao and that Park and Xi have a chance to start out on the right foot this time. (See-Won Byun and I review the respective South Korean and Chinese leadership transitions over the last four months in detail here alongside parallel assessments of inter-Korean relations and U.S.-ROK relations by Aidan Foster-Carter and Victor Cha and Ellen Kim.) Read more »

Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Speech: Who Is the Audience?

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year address in Pyongyang. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year address in Pyongyang. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters)

An annual ritual of North Korea is the release of a lengthy propaganda statement that serves as guidance and provides a sense of priorities for the coming year.  Under Kim Jong-il, the statement came in the form of a joint New Year’s Day editorial by three leading news organs, but Kim Il-sung gave the speech himself.  Kim Jong-un does not appear to have the same fear of public speaking that his father apparently had, so he gave the speech, which was broadcast on North Korean television, available through YouTube here.  Even though Kim is not afraid to read a speech in front of a camera, the echoing of the room, despite North Korean cutaways to a building accompanied by an applause track, suggests that Kim did not present the speech to a live audience.  Curious. Read more »

The End of Kim Jong-il: North Korea in Transition

by Scott A. Snyder
North Koreans visit the statues of the North's founder Kim Il-sung and his son and late leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters) North Koreans visit the statues of the North's founder Kim Il-sung and his son and late leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters)

Kim Jong-il died a year ago today, but the breathless rush of anticipated changes, instability, and chaos that many expected have not materialized. That the North Korean state has survived two decades of predictions that it would collapse illustrates just how poorly external observers understand what makes North Korea tick. There is a wide variation among the views of the most experienced of American North Korea specialists, from those who see the system as durable, even if embattled, to those who see the system as bankrupt and ripe for instability and collapse. The full range of views is represented in a new volume I edited with Park Kyung-Ae, entitled North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society. These assessments were completed last spring as the transition to the rule of Kim Jong-un began to unfold along lines that had already been put into place by Kim Jong-il prior to his death. Read more »

North Korea’s Successful Satellite Launch: Assessing the Impact

by Scott A. Snyder
The Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket is pictured sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site. (Bobby Yip/courtesy Reuters) The Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket is pictured sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site. (Bobby Yip/courtesy Reuters)

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea successfully launched a multi-stage Unha-3 rocket from its Tongchang-ri launch facility on December 12 at 9:51 a.m. KST. About ninety minutes after the launch, the Korean Central News Agency reported that “the launching of the satellite ‘Gwangmyongsong-3’ using the “Unha-3” rocket was a success and that the satellite has entered into its planned orbit.” North American Aerospace Defense Command reported that “initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.” Read more »

North Korea’s Satellite Launch: Pyongyang Style Theater or Prelude to Crisis?

by Scott A. Snyder
A soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) A soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

North Korea’s announcement of plans to pursue another satellite launch between December 10 and 22 may have been unwelcome, but it should not have been entirely unanticipated. North Korea defiantly stated that it would continue to test long-range multi-stage rockets on its April 17 response to a UN Security Council Presidential statement condemning North Korea’s failed April 12 launch. Another launch will likely have a disproportionate political impact since it comes prior to national elections scheduled in Japan on December 16 and in South Korea on December 19. Here’s a rundown of the challenges a North Korean satellite launch poses during this political transition period: Read more »

U.S.-ROK Security Consultative Meetings: A Review of Progress Under the Obama and Lee Administrations

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean defense minister Kim shakes hands with U.S. defense secretary Panetta during a joint news conference in Seoul (Pool/courtesy Reuters) South Korean defense minister Kim shakes hands with U.S. defense secretary Panetta during a joint news conference in Seoul (Pool/courtesy Reuters)

U.S. secretary of defense Panetta and ROK minister of defense Kim Kwan-jin released a joint communique following the 44th annual Security Consultative Meetings (SCM) on Wednesday.  Since this meeting is an annual event that rotates between Washington and Seoul, I decided to compare this week’s communique with the one issued four years ago (at the end of the Bush administration) under Lee Myung-bak’s first defense minister Lee Sang-hee and his counterpart Robert Gates to provide a sense of how the relationship has developed during the stewardship of Presidents Lee and Obama.  Here are my takeaways: Read more »

Global Korea in International Security: Why It Is Likely to Last

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean soldiers salute during the inauguration ceremony of the Dongmyong peacekeeping troops bound for Lebanon, in Gwangju (courtesy Reuters) South Korean soldiers salute during the inauguration ceremony of the Dongmyong peacekeeping troops bound for Lebanon, in Gwangju (courtesy Reuters)

The agenda for the annual U.S.-ROK Security Consultative Meeting to be held this week in Washington between South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, will inevitably focus on how to keep the Korean peninsula stable against potential North Korean provocations. However, with South Korea’s decision to contribute resources to a variety of international peacekeeping and stabilization missions, U.S.-ROK security cooperation has gone global. Read more »