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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"

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 8, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
North-Korea-nuclear-test Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division director Yohei Hasegawa points at a graph of ground motion waveform data observed in Japan during a news conference on implications that an earthquake sourced around North Korea was triggered by an unnatural reason, January 6, 2016. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. North Korea announces its “H-bomb of justice.” Jaws dropped around the world as news of North Korea’s fourth nuclear test lit up phones, tablets, and televisions on Tuesday. Those in South Korea and China reported tremors caused by the detonation, which registered as a 5.1-magnitude earthquake–almost identical to North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2013. North Korea’s official news agency released a statement claiming a successful test of a hydrogen bomb. Read more »

Where China and the United States Disagree on North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi talk before a bilateral meeting at the Putra World Trade Center August 5, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Courtesy REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool) US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi talk before a bilateral meeting at the Putra World Trade Center August 5, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Courtesy REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool)

The “artificial earthquake” in North Korea caused by its fourth nuclear test has set off geopolitical tremors in U.S.-China relations, exposing the underlying gap between the two countries that has long been papered over by their common rhetorical commitment to Korean denuclearization. At their Sunnylands summit in June of 2013, Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama vowed to work together on North Korea. Last September in Washington, the two leaders underscored the unacceptability of a North Korean nuclear test. Read more »

North Korea’s Nuclear Theatricality: What Matters Little and What Matters A Lot

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
Ko Yun-hwa (L), Administrator of Korea Meteorological Administration, points at where seismic waves observed in South Korea came from, during a media briefing at Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul, South Korea, January 6, 2016. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji) Ko Yun-hwa (L), Administrator of Korea Meteorological Administration, points at where seismic waves observed in South Korea came from, during a media briefing at Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul, South Korea, January 6, 2016. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

Sungtae “Jacky” Park is research associate for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and is the author of The Korean Pivot and the Return of Great Power Politics in Northeast Asia.
Read more »

North Korea’s Fourth Nuclear Test: How to Respond?

by Scott A. Snyder
Ko Yun-hwa (L), Administrator of Korea Meteorological Administration, points at where seismic waves observed in South Korea came from, during a media briefing at Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul, South Korea, January 6, 2016. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji) Ko Yun-hwa (L), Administrator of Korea Meteorological Administration, points at where seismic waves observed in South Korea came from, during a media briefing at Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul, South Korea, January 6, 2016. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

North Korea announced that it has conducted its fourth nuclear test on January 6, 2016, following reports of a 5.1 magnitude artificial earthquake near the site of North Korea’s past nuclear tests. Regardless of whether or not the North’s claims to have conducted a test of a “hydrogen bomb” are true, the test occurs in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea for conducting three previous tests and despite repeated warnings by the leaders of the United States, South Korea, and China not to do so. South Korea’s foreign minister stated in April of 2014 that North Korea’s fourth nuclear test would be a “game changer,” but this will only be the case if the United States, South Korea, and China can lead a response that imposes real costs on Pyongyang. Read more »

Time for a New Approach in U.S.-North Korea Relations

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
Missiles are taken on trucks past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. (Courtesy REUTERS/James Pearson) Missiles are taken on trucks past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. (Courtesy REUTERS/James Pearson)

Jongsoo Lee is Senior Managing Director at Brock Securities LLC and Center Associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. The opinions expressed in this piece are solely his own. He can be followed on Twitter at @jameslee004. Read more »

Planning for Korean Unification

by Scott A. Snyder
Members of the North Korean soccer team run down the field after Jin
Pyol Hui (hidden) scored her team's 3rd goal against Nigeria during
second half action in their first round FIFA Women's World Cup game in
Philadelphia, September 20, 2003. North Korea defeated Nigeria 3-0.
After the goal, fans of the team unfurled a larged flag showing the
Korean peninsula. The fans held up signs during the game promoting a
unified Korea. (Courtesy REUTERS/Gary Hershorn) Members of the North Korean soccer team run down the field after Jin Pyol Hui (hidden) scored her team's 3rd goal against Nigeria during second half action in their first round FIFA Women's World Cup game in Philadelphia, September 20, 2003. North Korea defeated Nigeria 3-0. After the goal, fans of the team unfurled a larged flag showing the Korean peninsula. The fans held up signs during the game promoting a unified Korea. (Courtesy REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)

This post was coauthored with Sungtae “Jacky” Park, research associate for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Last week Kim Jong-un marked the fourth anniversary of his succession to leadership and his father’s death in North Korea. The leadership transition reignited discussion among North Korea watchers over how and whether the regime would be able to survive. Two years later, Kim had his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, executed for treason, sparking another round of speculation over whether the execution reflected a step toward consolidation of power under or was evidence of infighting that might lead to a leadership vacuum in Pyongyang. Because North Korea’s totalitarian system requires isolation to perpetuate political control yet is increasingly penetrated by markets and information, speculation about North Korea’s collapse will persist, and outside observers will judge that Kim is playing a losing hand. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of December 18, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Hyeon-Soo-Lim-gets-life-sentence-North-Korea - 12-18-15 South Korea–born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim attends his trial at a North Korean court in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, December 16, 2015. (KCNA/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Canadian pastor sentenced by North Korea to life in prison with hard labor. Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian pastor, was sentenced to a life term of hard labor by the highest court in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. After a ninety-minute trial, Lim was convicted of crimes against the state that included running a human rights campaign against North Korea in cooperation with the United States and South Korea, as well as assisting defectors who wished to leave North Korea. Read more »

North Korea’s Band Came Home, and Inter-Korean Talks Broke Down: What Next?

by Scott A. Snyder
The Moranbong Band performs for participants of the Fifth Conference of Training Officers of the Korean People's Army at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, in this April 27, 2015 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 29, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/KCNA) The Moranbong Band performs for participants of the Fifth Conference of Training Officers of the Korean People's Army at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, in this April 27, 2015 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 29, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/KCNA)

Last week it seemed possible that North Korea was ready for the first time under Kim Jong-un to reach out in parallel to its closest neighbors, South Korea and China. Inter-Korean dialogue had resumed last Friday at the vice-minister level in Kaesong. At the same time, Pyongyang sent Kim Jong-un’s favorite all-female Moranbong band to Beijing as a signal of potential willingness to re-open normal relations between Pyongyang and Beijing. However, both initiatives appear to have foundered because of North Korea’s commitment to its nuclear weapons program, underscoring the country’s diplomatic isolation. Read more »

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) 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 »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 4, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
India-coal - 12-4-15 Laborers load coal on trucks at Bari Brahamina on the outskirts of Jammu, India, March 16, 2012. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. India’s embrace of coal complicates ambitious renewable energy targets. India brings a unique position to the climate negotiations underway in Paris as a huge developing country with grand economic plans that is also disproportionately facing the consequences of climate change. Read more »