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Asia Unbound

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

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Showing posts for "North Korea"

India’s space program, Kim Jong-nam’s assassination, Jakarta’s elections, and more

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
People watch as India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) carrying 104 satellites in a single mission lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer People watch as India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) carrying 104 satellites in a single mission lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India on February 15, 2017. (Stringer/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Larry Hong, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. India’s space program shoots for the stars. This Wednesday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched a record-breaking 104 satellites into orbit from a single rocket. The feat, which shattered the previous Russian record of thirty-seven satellites in one launch, cemented India as a “serious player” in the private-sector space market. Read more »

The Death of Kim Jong Nam

by Joshua Kurlantzick and Scott A. Snyder
North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong Nam emerges from a bus as he is escorted by Japanese authorities upon his deportation from Japan at Tokyo's Narita international airport May 4, 2001. Kim Jong Nam, eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the man entered Japan with a forged passport on Tuesday, but was deported to China on Friday. (Eriko Sugita)

The death in Malaysia of Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, was shocking on its surface. Reports indicate that two women may have poisoned him at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, while others suggest a larger group of people might have been involved. Reports further suggest the attackers may have poisoned Kim Jong Nam with a needle, while other reports allege they sprayed or used a cloth to apply some kind of poison on him. He died on his way to a hospital in the Malaysian capital. Read more »

SecDef Mattis’s Mission in Northeast Asia: Provide Reassurance from the Trump Administration

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (L) shakes hands with South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn (R) prior their meeting at the Government Complex in Seoul, South Korea February 2, 2017. (Reuters/Song Kyung-Seok/Pool)

Northeast Asia is facing profound political uncertainty: South Korea is immobilized by a political scandal that has resulted in the impeachment of its president, Park Geun-hye, and ensnared top business elites; Japan has been left high and dry after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, arguably the country’s best chance at growth; and North Korea is getting closer and closer to becoming a nuclear power. Read more »

Assessing U.S. Policy Options Toward North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
Newspapers with pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addressing the ruling Workers' Party congress are placed inside one of halls of the Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang textile mill during a government organised visit for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea May 9, 2016. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

On January 31, 2017, I testified together with Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt from the American Enterprise Institute before the Senate foreign relations committee on policy toward North Korea. My opening statement appears below, and my written testimony and a video recording of the hearing can be found here. Read more »

Podcast: North Korea’s Information Underground

by Elizabeth C. Economy
north-korea-balloon-leaflets Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector and leader of an anti-North Korea civic group, prepares to release a balloon containing leaflets denouncing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un near the demilitarized zone in Paju, South Korea, April 29, 2016. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Jieun Baek, author of North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed Society, tells the story of the outlawed political and social information that is penetrating North Korea’s hermetic borders. Through dozens of interviews with North Korean defectors, Baek finds that everyday North Koreans crave news and entertainment from the outside world—from romantic television dramas to basic weather reports. Most of all, the foreign knowledge they seek helps to dismantle the façade of total information control the North Korean government has tried to erect around its citizens. Read more »

South Korea’s Political Vacuum and the Trump Administration

by Scott A. Snyder
People attend a protest demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's resignation in Seoul, South Korea, January 7, 2017. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

The December 9 impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye has created a vacuum of political leadership in South Korea. Normally, the South Korean president would lead a full court press to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s commitment to the U.S.-ROK security alliance and coordinate a consistent approach to the growing North Korean nuclear threat. Read more »

Trump and North Korea: On the Mark Or On Collision Course?

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump talks to reporters as he and his wife Melania Trump arrive for a New Year's Eve celebration with members and guests at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 31, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

During his annual New Year’s address on Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dropped a bombshell: He stated as part of his review of the past year’s accomplishments that North Korea has entered “the final stage in preparations to test-launch” an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). One that could hit the United States. Read more »

North Korea: Four Hard Questions for the Trump Administration

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A customer watches TV setbroadcast of the first presidential debate between U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in Seoul, South Korea, September 27, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

Sungtae (Jacky) Park is research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On January 2, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that a nuclear North Korea capable of hitting parts of the United States “won’t happen.” Yet, North Korea has been advancing its nuclear and missile capabilities at an alarming pace, and he will not be the first president to face the North Korean threat. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all attempted but failed to address the issue. Trump cannot continue the current path and expect different results. But, before looking for a different path, the new administration first should ask a number of hard questions that might better shed light on the nature of the problem and the decisions that could or should be made. Read more »

Park Geun-hye Nears Her Downfall

by Scott A. Snyder
Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun presides over a plenary session to vote on the impeachment bill of South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, December 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

Following weeks of tense political scandal, the South Korean National Assembly voted overwhelmingly by a margin of 234-56 on a motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye today. Read more »

Bird Flu, North Korean Coal Crunch, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
bird-flu-south-korea South Korean health officials disinfect a vehicle to prevent spread of bird flu in Pocheon, South Korea, November 23, 2016. (Kim Myeong-jin/News1 via Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Erik Crouch, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Bird flu outbreak puts Asian nations on high alert. A newly identified spate of bird flu outbreaks has alarmed public health officials across Asia. Bird flu, more formally known as Avian influenza, is a virus that occurs naturally among wild aquatic birds, but can spread to domestic poultry and sometimes to humans. These fears harken back to an H5N1 strain that that killed 450 people throughout the 2000s. Read more »