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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 "South Korea"

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 12, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A Thai electoral worker starts counting ballots at a polling station during a constitutional referendum vote in Bangkok, Thailand August 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa A Thai electoral worker starts counting ballots at a polling station during a constitutional referendum vote in Bangkok, Thailand on August 7, 2016. (Kerek Wongsa/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, and Gabriella Meltzer look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. New Thai constitution passed in referendum. In their first opportunity to vote since the 2014 military coup that toppled Yingluck Shinawatra’s democratically-elected government, the Thai people gave a resounding “yes” to the new military-drafted constitution. The results, with over 61 percent voting in favor, may not have been surprising given that the junta did its all to drown out the opposition, arresting and detaining dozens of activists and politicians in the lead-up to the vote. Experts were also quick to point out that approval did not equal widespread endorsement of the junta, as most people had never even seen a draft of the document and merely wanted a return to political normalcy. Read more »

China’s Limited Retaliation Options Against the THAAD Deployment in South Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
China-limited-response-to-THAAD Seoungju residents protesting against the government’s decision on deploying a U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense unit in Seongju, South Korea. The banner reads “Desperately oppose deploying THAAD.” (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

The Chinese Ambassador to South Korea gave a rather dramatic warning to the leader of South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party on February 25 that a decision to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system would put China–South Korean relations at risk. Thus, it should not be surprising that threats of Chinese retaliation toward South Korea would surface following the July 8 U.S.-ROK announcement that the governments had decided to deploy THAAD in South Korea in response to North Korea’s growing missile threats. Despite emotional assertions that South Korea has compromised Chinese interests by pursuing self-defense against North Korea’s growing missile capabilities, China does not have the capability to punish South Korea without damaging its own economic and strategic interests on the Korean peninsula. Read more »

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

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Dhaka-ceremony People attend a candle light vigil for the victims of the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery and the O'Kitchen Restaurant, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 3, 2016. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Dhaka attacks designed to “reverberate globally.” Bangladesh is still reeling from last Friday when at least five Bangladeshi men stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s affluent Gulshan neighborhood and unleashed horror within. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of June 24, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Wukan-protest Villagers carrying Chinese flags protest at Wukan village in China's Guangdong province, June 20, 2016. (James Pomfret/Reuters)

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

1. Smoldering discontent rekindles protests in Wukan, China. Nearly five years ago, popular protests erupted in the small fishing village of Wukan, Guangdong province, over illegal land grabs by the local government. The “Siege of Wukan,” as it was later known, set a precedent for diffusing tensions on the local level through democratic means, as villagers were allowed to elect new leaders after protesting for three months. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of June 10, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Vietnam-fish-protests Demonstrators, holding signs, say they are demanding cleaner waters in the central regions after mass fish deaths in recent weeks, in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 1, 2016. (Kham/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Poisoned Vietnamese fish fuel popular discontent. A massive die-off of fish has occurred along 120 miles of coastline in Vietnam, where hundreds of residents in traditional fishing villages have fallen ill from eating the poisoned catch. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of May 27, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Obama-Vietnam-speech Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L-R), Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 25, 2015. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, Pei-Yu Wei, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Obama offers subtle criticisms in Vietnam. Much of the coverage of U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Vietnam this week centered around the lifting of the lethal weapons ban and tensions in the South China Sea. However, Obama also used his visit to address concerns surrounding human rights violations and autocratic governance in Vietnam. Read more »

Kim Jong-un’s Coronation and North Korea’s Future

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 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

The seventh congress of the North Korean Workers’ Party (WPK) held from May 6 to 8 was a carefully choreographed affair designed to show the world that its newly installed Chairman Kim Jong-un is fully in control of the North Korean state. By taking the title of Chairman, Kim has signaled that he is no longer reliant solely on the legacy of his father and grandfather, that he is determined to lead, and that he expects the international community to accommodate his absolute leadership of a nuclear North Korea. Read more »

Why North Korean Threat Is a More Urgent Issue for Next U.S. President

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) attends a meeting of information workers of the whole army at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang March 28, 2013, in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency on March 29, 2013. North Korea put its rocket units on standby on Friday to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after the United States flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula in a rare show of force. (Reuters/KCNA) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) attends a meeting of information workers of the whole army at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang March 28, 2013, in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency on March 29, 2013. North Korea put its rocket units on standby on Friday to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after the United States flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula in a rare show of force. (Reuters/KCNA)

Kim Jong Un has been intensifying his efforts to develop a long-range nuclear strike capability since the beginning of 2016. The more vulnerable he feels atop a weakening North Korea, the more he seeks a silver bullet to ensure the regime’s long-term survival. Read more »

Upheaval in South Korea’s National Assembly: Expect More Surprises

by Scott A. Snyder
Members of South Korean ruling Saenuri Party react as they watch a live TV broadcast reporting the results of parliamentary elections at the party headquarters in Seoul April 13, 2016. (Reuters/Jung Yeon-je/Pool) Members of South Korean ruling Saenuri Party react as they watch a live TV broadcast reporting the results of parliamentary elections at the party headquarters in Seoul April 13, 2016. (Reuters/Jung Yeon-je/Pool)

The first rule of watching South Korean elections is the same as the first rule for watching Korean TV dramas: be prepared to be surprised. In this respect, South Korea’s 2016 National Assembly electoral result delivered, as virtually no one predicted the magnitude of the failure of the ruling Saenuri party or its major standard bearers. The results left the former majority party in second place at 122 seats, well short of the 151 seats needed to exercise a majority in the 300-seat National Assembly. The first place Minjoo or Democratic Party of Korea, pruned by the departure of entrepreneur-turned-National Assemblyman Ahn Cheol-soo, who started his own People’s Party, captured 123 seats to become the largest party in the National Assembly. Ahn’s own start-up experience proved sufficient to lead the newly-established People’s Party to a better-than-expected thirty-eight seats, primarily centered in Korea’s southwestern Jeolla region. Read more »

A Trilateral on the Mend

by Sheila A. Smith
U.S. President Barack Obama stands behind as South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the end of their trilateral meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington March 31, 2016 (KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS). U.S. President Barack Obama stands behind as South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the end of their trilateral meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington March 31, 2016 (KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS).

For the second time, President Barack Obama brought together President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a trilateral summit on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. The first time in 2014 the president was facilitating a meeting the two leaders could not have on their own, but last week the improving relations between Seoul and Tokyo were obvious. While the United States has facilitated some of these improvements, ultimately it is North Korea and its provocations that brought the two U.S. allies back to the table. Whether the future of this trilateral can be bolder and more resilient remains to be seen. Read more »