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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"

The U.S.-DPRK Hostage Stalemate

by Scott A. Snyder
kenneth-bae-interview Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year, appears before a limited number of media outlets in Pyongyang in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 20, 2014 (KCNA/Courtesy: Reuters).

Note: This post was published prior to Matthew Miller’s trial. On Sunday, September 14, Miller was found guilty in North Korean court and sentenced to six years’ hard labor.

North Korea has announced the trial next week of Matthew Miller, an American currently detained in North Korea for ripping up his tourist visa and claiming asylum. This announcement follows interviews last week on CNN that the DPRK hurriedly arranged with Miller, detained tourist Jeffrey Fowle, and convicted American Kenneth Bae, who have become three American pawns in the ongoing nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 15, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A woman holds a picture of Pope Francis while waiting for his arrival for the Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup stadium in Daejeon August 15, 2014. Pope Francis on Friday commemorated the more than 300 people killed in a ferry disaster in April, and called on South Koreans, among Asia's richest people, to beware of the spiritual "cancer" that often accompanies affluent societies. REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS) A woman holds a picture of Pope Francis while waiting for his arrival for the Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup stadium in Daejeon on August 15, 2014. (Lee Jin-man/Courtesy Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Pope Francis draws thousands on his first trip to Asia. Pope Francis visited South Korea this week, marking the first visit by a pope to Asia in fifteen years. Though the pope will not visit other countries in Asia, a spokesperson said that he is there “to address the entire continent, not just Korea,” and he will also travel to the Philippines and Sri Lanka next year. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 27, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed to Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo on April 23, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed to Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo on April 23, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Abe fires the “third arrow” of his growth strategy Abenomics. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced the “third arrow” of his economic reform policy this week. The third arrow, experts say, is important but difficult, and seeks to address issues of tax reform, population decline, and immigration, as well as trade and agricultural reform. This phase follows the first (a fiscal stimulus) and the second (massive quantitative easing to provide a monetary boost). “Abenomics” claims to address the large challenges threatening Japan’s economy, including one of the biggest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world and an ageing society. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 6, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park on June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 (Bobby Yip/Courtesy: Reuters). Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park on June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 (Bobby Yip/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Thousands protest on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Tiananmen Square; mainland China ramps up security. Much of the world commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the military crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Police presence shot up in Beijing and other major Chinese cities for the anniversary, and many websites, including LinkedIn, censored all mention of the incident. In Hong Kong, where freedom of speech is more protected, approximately 180,000 people converged in Victoria Park, lighting candles and chanting slogans. The White House officially commemorated the anniversary, leaving China “strongly dissatisfied.” Read more »

Reading Japan’s Deal With North Korea

by Sheila A. Smith
Photographers take pictures of Shigeru Yokota (L) and his wife Sakie (C), parents of Megumi Yokota who was abducted by North Korea agents at age 13 in 1977, during a news conference in Kawasaki, west of Tokyo, March 17, 2014 Photographers take pictures of Shigeru Yokota (L) and his wife Sakie (C), parents of Megumi Yokota who was abducted by North Korea agents at age 13 in 1977, during a news conference in Kawasaki, west of Tokyo, March 17, 2014. (Yuya Shino/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, the Japanese government announced a new deal with Pyongyang to reopen discussions over the fate of the Japanese citizens abducted decades ago by the North. While Seoul and Washington worried that this initiative by Tokyo might undermine trilateral cooperation, this is far from an effort by the Shinzo Abe cabinet to craft a new grand bargain with Kim Jong-un.

Rather, this is a limited effort in response to Pyongyang’s attempts to pursue humanitarian diplomacy with both Seoul and Tokyo. Movement on bilateral talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang is long overdue, and Tokyo—like Beijing and Seoul—may want to develop some leverage in its talks with North Korea. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 30, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Trucks packed with criminals and suspects are seen during a mass sentencing rally at a stadium in Yili, Xinjiang on May 27, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). Trucks packed with criminals and suspects are seen during a mass sentencing rally at a stadium in Yili, Xinjiang on May 27, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. China convicts fifty-five people in Xinjiang mass sentencing. Fifty-five people were sentenced for terrorism, separatism, international homicide, and murder at a stadium of 7,000 onlookers in Yili, Xinjiang. Standing in backs of vehicles surrounded by armed guards, the defendants all appeared to be from the region’s Muslim Uighur community. The rare mass trial, in which three defendants were sentenced to death, is part of Beijing’s hardline response to a recent string of deadly attacks across the country. Human rights advocates criticized the mass sentencing for its failure to address underlying public security problems. Meanwhile, authorities in Xinjiang are hoping to overcome fears of terrorist attacks by offering cash bonuses to tourists to the region from elsewhere in China. 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 »

The Park-Xi Honeymoon and the Limits of China’s Patience With North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
park xi summit june 2013 South Korean president Park Geun-hye and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping attend a joint declaration ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 27, 2013. Park and Xi have often met throughout the past year at multilateral summits, including the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague in March 2014 (Wang Zhao/Courtesy: Reuters).

A major foreign policy achievement that has thus far been credited to Park Geun-hye during her first year in office has been the establishment of a stronger foundation for good relations with China. Park received a warm welcome from China’s president Xi Jinping during a state visit to Beijing last summer and Park and Xi have routinely made time for each other at multilateral summits, most recently on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague. The hospitality afforded to Park stands in stark contrast both to the tensions that had characterized Sino-South Korean relations under Lee Myung-Bak and China’s treatment of Kim Jong-un, who remains in the dog house with Xi following nuclear and missile tests staged in the early stages of Xi’s term as President of China. Read more »

How to Spot A Shadowy North Korean Business

by Scott A. Snyder
Workers are seen inside a North Korean flagged ship Chong Chon Gang docked at the Manzanillo Container Terminal in Colon City on July 16, 2013. Panama detained the North Korean–flagged ship from Cuba as it headed to the Panama Canal and said it was hiding weapons in brown sugar containers, sparking a standoff in which the ship's captain attempted to commit suicide (Carlos Jasso/Courtesy: Reuters). Workers are seen inside a North Korean flagged ship Chong Chon Gang docked at the Manzanillo Container Terminal in Colon City on July 16, 2013. Panama detained the North Korean–flagged ship from Cuba as it headed to the Panama Canal and said it was hiding weapons in brown sugar containers, sparking a standoff in which the ship's captain attempted to commit suicide (Carlos Jasso/Courtesy: Reuters).

The latest UN Panel of Experts report reveals that North Korean businesses connected with the illicit arms trade are most effective when they hide their North Korean colors and blend in to the international trading environment as nondescript entities. Their North Korean origins may be concealed by a web of false fronts, dizzying name changes, and layered ownership structures that distance them from their North Korean origins. In other cases, some North Korean companies may continue to operate openly despite having been sanctioned by the UN. Without sufficient due diligence, unwitting companies could be doing business with North Korean firms in violation of UN sanctions on North Korean nuclear, missile, and conventional arms traders. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 4, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Residents cover their faces as they ride a motorcycle along a street after tear gas was released by police to disperse a protest against a chemical plant project in Maoming, Guandong province, China on March 31, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Residents cover their faces as they ride a motorcycle along a street after tear gas was released by police to disperse a protest against a chemical plant project in Maoming, Guandong province, China on March 31, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula. South and North Korea exchanged artillery fire across a disputed martime border off the peninsula’s western coast on March 31. Neither side aimed at land or military installations, but 100 of the 500 rounds from North Korea fell south of the boundary, followed by 300 South Korean artillery shells shot into the northern side of the boundary. The incident occurred not far from Baengnyeong Island, where in March 2010 North Korean torpedoes sunk the South Korean warship Cheonan. Read more »