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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"

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 »

India’s State Elections, South Korea’s Economic Squeeze, Afghanistan’s Red Cross Attack, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Voters line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the state assembly election in the northern state of Punjab, in the village of Nada, India, February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Ajay Verma Voters line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the state assembly election in the northern state of Punjab, in the village of Nada, India on February 4, 2017. (Ajay Verma/Reuters)

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

1. India kicks off state elections. Political contests in five Indian states over the next two months will offer insight into citizens’ attitudes toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda. Last weekend, voters took to the polls in Goa and Punjab. Turnouts in the two states were unusually high with roughly 83 percent of eligible voters taking part in Goa, and 75 percent in Punjab. 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 »

Samsung Scandal, Chinese Coal, Islamic State in Asia, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
jay-lee-samsung Chief of Samsung Group Lee Jae-yong is surrounded by media as he arrives at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, January 18, 2017. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

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

1. Sprawling influence-peddling scandal spreads to Samsung leadership. Last week, the de facto leader of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, faced a twenty-two-hour interrogation regarding allegations that Samsung paid, and promised to pay, a total of 43 billion won (roughly $36.4 million) in bribes to South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for the government-controlled National Pension Service’s support of a contentious 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates. 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 »

Costs and Consequences of South Korea’s Political Vacuum

by Scott A. Snyder
People attend a protest demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's resignation in Seoul, South Korea, December 31, 2016. The signs read "Regime change in the New Year" and "Step down Park Geun-hye immediately". (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

On December 9, the South Korean National Assembly passed a motion of impeachment against Park Geun-hye. The ROK (Republic of Korea) Constitutional Court has up to 180 days from that date to review the motion of impeachment and to evaluate the specific charges contained in the motion. While the court reviews the evidence in support of the impeachment motion, Park is sidelined from her official responsibilities and has been replaced by her former prime minister, Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. Read more »

Chinese Ivory, Google in India, Philippine Jailbreak, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
china-ivory-ban A police officer stands guard next to ivory and ivory sculptures before they are destroyed in Dongguan, Guangdong province, on January 6, 2014. (Alex Lee/Reuters)

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

1. The world reacts to China’s ivory ban. Following a resolution at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in South Africa in October, the Chinese State Council last Friday announced a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities by the close of 2017. China currently sustains roughly 70 percent of the world’s ivory market, where the coveted material can cost upwards of $1,000 per kilogram. 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 »