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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"

Anies’s Big Win, India’s Sex Ratio, USS Carl Vinson Bluff, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Anti-Ahok-Jakarta Supporters of Jakarta governor candidate Anies Baswedan react as Baswedan leads the count at the Petamburan flat polling station in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 19, 2017. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

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

1. Anies elected Jakarta’s next governor. Anies Baswedan, Indonesia’s former education minister, beat out sitting governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (better known as Ahok) in a closely contested election. While official results have not yet been released, Anies clearly leads in polls. Read more »

A Menu of Imperfect Strategic Options for South Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se (R) talks with Wu Dawei (L), China's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, during their meeting in Seoul, South Korea April 10, 2017. (Reuters/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool)

This post was coauthored with Sungtae (Jacky) Park, research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. This post originally appeared on East Asia Forum, is an abridged adaptation of the authors’ CFR discussion paper, The Korean Pivot: Seoul’s Strategic Choices and Rising Rivalries in Northeast Asia, and highlights some of the main themes of Snyder’s upcoming book, South Korea At the Crossroads: Autonomy and Alliance in an Era of Rival Powers. Read more »

Not the Right Time for a U.S.-China Summit

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before their meeting at at the Great Hall of the People on March 19, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Reuters/Lintao Zhang/Pool)

Hochang Song is a former member of South Korea’s national assembly and is a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping are expected to hold their first summit in early April. Among many other items, the international community will be watching to see if the summit might produce a solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis. But the current political situation in the United States, China, and the Korean Peninsula dims such expectations. Northeast Asia is currently in unprecedented turmoil and transformation. Although Korea is the biggest issue on the agenda, it is not the right time for a U.S.-China summit. Read more »

Park’s Impeachment, Myanmar Exodus, ZTE Fine, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Pro-Park-protest A supporter of impeached President Park Geun-hye lies in front of a barricade of riot police during a protest after Park’s impeachment was accepted, near the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2017. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

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

1. Park Geun-hye impeached. South Korea’s Constitutional Court ruled unanimously on Friday to uphold a parliamentary vote that impeached Park Geun-hye in December, decisively ousting her from office and igniting violence from pro- and anti-Park demonstrators that led to at least two deaths in Seoul. Park’s abbreviated term, serving four years of a five-year term, has been marked by controversy and criticism of her apparent aloof and autocratic governing manner. Read more »

Park Geun-hye’s Impeachment: What Next?

by Scott A. Snyder
People react about the decision of the Constitutional Court over the impeachment of South Koeran President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea March 10, 2017. (Yonhap/Lee Ji-Eun/via Reuters)

South Korea’s Constitutional Court unanimously upheld the National Assembly’s impeachment of Park Geun-hye today, paving the way for new elections to be held within 60 days of the ruling. May 9 has been reported as the most likely date for the election of a new president, who will replace President Park and serve a five-year term. Read more »

Expanding South Korea’s Security Role in the Asia-Pacific Region

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Navy patrol combat corvettes stage an anti-submarine exercise off the western coast of Taean on May 27, 2010. North Korea said on Thursday it was ripping up military agreements signed with the South in a step seen as a prelude to shutting down a joint factory park, just as Seoul staged anti-submarine drills in tense border waters. (Reuters/Kim Jae-hwan)

This post was coauthored with Sungtae (Jacky) Park, research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea has become a nation with a global presence, but Seoul has yet to exercise its influence in Southeast Asia. In a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) discussion paper, Expanding South Korea’s Security Role in the Asia-Pacific Region, Patrick M. Cronin, senior advisor and senior director of the Asia-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security, and Seongwon Lee, deputy director for the international cooperation division of the unification policy office at the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea, argue that South Korea should play a larger role in the region, particularly with regard to dealing with a rising China and coping with rising maritime tensions. Read more »

Malaysia’s Front Office Role in Enabling North Korean WMD Procurement

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol (C), who was expelled from Malaysia, is escorted as he arrives at Kuala Lumpur international airport in Sepang, Malaysia March 6, 2017. (Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

North Korea continues to evade UN sanctions designed to prevent its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development by embedding its agents and intermediaries within the international trading system, according to the latest assessment of the UN Panel of Experts set up to monitor North Korean compliance with international sanctions. Read more »

Samsung Scandal, Islamic State and China, Philippine HIV, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Samsung Group chief Lee Jae-yong arrives at the office of the independent counsel team in Seoul, South Korea, February 22, 2017. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

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

1. Samsung heir indicted on corruption charges. Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of Samsung Group, was formally indicted on Tuesday on bribery and embezzlement charges. Lee’s indictment was the culmination of a ninety-day special prosecutor investigation of an intensifying corruption scandal that has already brought about President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. Lee was arrested on February 17 but was not formally indicted until February 28 on charges that include allegedly paying roughly $38 million (43 billion won) to Choi Soon-sil, Park’s close confidante and corruption scandal linchpin, and two nonprofit foundations Choi controlled. Read more »

South Korea’s Strategic Choices: Separating the Forest from the Trees

by Scott A. Snyder
Protesters gather and occupy major streets in the city center for a rally against South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea December 3, 2016. (Reuters/Chung Sung-Jun/Pool)

This post was coauthored with Sungtae (Jacky) Park, research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea is in turmoil, with President Park Geun-hye having been suspended from office by the South Korean national assembly after being implicated as an accomplice in the criminal investigation of her close friend, Choi Soon-sil. Consequently, the South Korean conservatives have lost popularity among the public, and the center-left Minjoo Party’s Moon Jae-in has emerged as the front-runner in South Korea’s looming presidential election, which must be held within sixty days if Park’s impeachment is upheld at the South Korean constitutional court. Read more »

Costs of South Korea’s Ongoing Political Vacuum

by Scott A. Snyder
Judges of the Constitutional Court sit during the final hearing on whether to confirm the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye at the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, Febuary 27, 2017. (Reuters/Ahn Young-joon/Pool)

Two months following the passage by the ROK National Assembly of a motion of impeachment against Park Geun-hye, power remains in the hands of Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korean conservatives are split between the pro-Park New Liberty Korea Party and the newly-established anti-Park Bareun (Righteous) Party, and a series of investigations has expanded the dimensions of South Korea’s political scandal and threatened to ensnare top Korean corporate leaders.1 South Korea’s most experienced leader in international affairs, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, ended his flirtation with presidential politics by concluding that he should remain out of the race, seemingly turning a looming presidential election into a fight among progressives.2 Hwang has succeeded, thus far, in fulfilling his caretaker role, insofar as he has kept current policies in place and maintained government momentum despite the looming threat of politicization and reversal of Park Geun-hye’s major foreign policy decisions. But while South Korea stands still and awaits new political leadership, regional tensions are increasing and potential cleavages in the Northeast Asian security environment are becoming more apparent. Read more »