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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 Trump Transition, the South Korean Leadership Quagmire, and North Korea’s Opportunity

by Scott A. Snyder
Officials move a sign of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump after a U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji) Officials move a sign of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump after a U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

As a seemingly personality-driven, rather than policy-driven, Trump transition unfolds in the United States and Park Geun-hye’s scandal-ridden political crisis deepens with no clear end in sight in South Korea, North Korea under Kim Jong Un is comparatively a bastion of stability and fixed strategic purpose. But Pyongyang may have far more capacity as a source of instability than as an exploiter of uncertainty in Washington and Seoul. Read more »

The U.S.-ROK Alliance and the Trump Administration

by Scott A. Snyder
A woman takes a photograph of her friend with a cut-out of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump during a U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji) A woman takes a photograph of her friend with a cut-out of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump during a U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

South Korea’s unfolding domestic political crisis has been all-consuming, with daily revelations by an unrestrained Korean media into multiple scandals that have created the likelihood of a prolonged political vacuum and implicated President Park Geun-hye. Despite the biggest Korean political scandal in decades, however, Koreans have been focused on seeking explanations and assurances from American visitors following the election of Donald J. Trump as the next president of the United States. Read more »

Rakhine Lockdown, Hong Kong Disqualifications, Choigate, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
rohingya-children Rohingya Muslim boys stand in U Shey Kya village outside Maungdaw in Rakhine state, Myanmar, October 27, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

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

1. Rohingyas suffer under Rakhine lockdown. Myanmar’s Rakhine State, home to roughly 1.1 million stateless Muslims self-identified as Rohingya, has been on military lockdown since October 9 following attacks on three border security posts. Government officials claim that the perpetrators were members of a jihadist organization, and that military exercises are counterterrorism measures. The military’s goal is to eradicate the presence of the group Aqa Lul Mujahidin, which is reportedly linked to the Organization for Rohingya Security, an armed group active during the 1990s. Read more »

South Korea’s Leadership Crisis

by Scott A. Snyder
Choi Soon-sil (C), who is involved in a political scandal, reacts as she is surrounded by the media upon her arrival at a prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea, October 31, 2016. (Seo Myeong-gon/Yonhap via Reuters) Choi Soon-sil (C), who is involved in a political scandal, reacts as she is surrounded by the media upon her arrival at a prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea, October 31, 2016. (Seo Myeong-gon/Yonhap via Reuters)

Hundreds of thousands of Koreans gathered in central Seoul last weekend in the largest demonstrations South Korea has seen since its pro-democracy movement toppled authoritarian rule in the late 1980s. South Korean opposition leaders provided signs and encouraged public chants demanding the resignation of President Park Geun-hye. These demonstrations are the culmination of a ballooning national crisis that has ensnared the president and her top associates with allegations of hidden influence on government decision-making, extortion, and influence-peddling. Read more »

Trump’s Asia, Delhi’s Smog, Park’s New PM, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A member of student activist group, League of Filipino Students, displays an image of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as he chants anti-U.S. slogans during a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Manila, Philippines, on November 10, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters) A member of student activist group, League of Filipino Students, displays an image of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as he chants anti-U.S. slogans during a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Manila, Philippines, on November 10, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

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

1. Asia braces for Trump. On Tuesday night, as results from the U.S. general election poured in from polling places across America, Asian markets reeled at the prospect of a Trump presidency. By Thursday, U.S. markets stabilized and Asian markets had bounced back. But what will a Trump in the White House mean for Asia in the coming four years? At this point, even experts’ best guesses are still uncertain. Read more »

Securing Strategic Buffer Space: Case Studies and Implications for U.S. Global Strategy

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A world map from 1507 world map by cartographer Martin Waldseemuller is pictured in this handout image from the Library of Congress. The map shows two continents across the ocean from Europe, with a skinny isthmus between them, an embryonic Florida peninsula, a western mountain range on the northern continent, and on the southern continent, a clearly-lettered name: "America", the first known recorded instance of the use of the name. The Library of Congress acquired the 1507 map in 2003 for $10 million. (Reuters/Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress/Handout) A world map from 1507 world map by cartographer Martin Waldseemuller is pictured in this handout image from the Library of Congress. The map shows two continents across the ocean from Europe, with a skinny isthmus between them, an embryonic Florida peninsula, a western mountain range on the northern continent, and on the southern continent, a clearly-lettered name: "America", the first known recorded instance of the use of the name. The Library of Congress acquired the 1507 map in 2003 for $10 million. (Reuters/Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress/Handout)

Sungtae “Jacky” Park is research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A series of geopolitical fault lines are coming apart today. There is a hybrid conflict in Ukraine, an arc of destruction from the Levant to Iraq, rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, and instability in the southern Caucasus, just to name a few. What these conflicts have in common is that they are taking place in strategic buffer zones, physical spaces caught between competing regional powers. To address these problems by drawing lessons from the past, my paper for the Center for the National Interest, completed in September and published in October, examines four major cases of strategic buffer space conflicts: the Belgian crisis of 1830-1831, Byzantine-Sassanid and Ottoman-Safavid wars, China-Japan-Russia competition over Korea during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the Balkan powder keg that led to World War I. A brief summary of the four case studies can be found in The National Interest. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of November 4, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Choi Soon-sil (C), who is involved a political scandal, reacts as she is surrounded by media and protesters upon her arrival at a prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea, October 31, 2016. The banner (top L) reads "Arrest Choi Soon-sil, Call for Park Geun-hye to step down". REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji Choi Soon-sil (C), who is involved in a political scandal, reacts as she is surrounded by media and protesters upon her arrival at a prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea on October 31, 2016. The banner (top L) reads "Arrest Choi Soon-sil, Call for Park Geun-hye to step down". (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

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

1. South Korean president makes second public apology. On Friday, President Park Geun-hye of South Korea made a second public apology amidst rising domestic turmoil surrounding allegations that her close friend, Choi Soon-sil, acted as a kind of “shadow president” and improperly profited from her relationship with the president. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of October 28, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
quetta-police-academy-attack Pakistani troops deploy outside the Police Training Center after an attack on the center in Quetta, Pakistan, on October 25, 2016. (Naseer Ahmed/Reuters)

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

1. Suicide attack in Pakistan leaves sixty-one dead. Late Monday night, three masked terrorists breached a police training college outside of Quetta, Pakistan, and fired on unarmed sleeping recruits. After a five-hour gun battle with security forces, during which one of the terrorists was shot, the remaining two detonated suicide vests. Read more »

North Korea: Ten Years After the First Nuclear Test

by Scott A. Snyder
A rally celebrating the success of a recent nuclear test is held in Kim Il Sung square in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 13, 2016. (KCNA/via Reuters) A rally celebrating the success of a recent nuclear test is held in Kim Il Sung square in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 13, 2016. (KCNA/via Reuters)

A decade has passed since North Korea first tested a nuclear weapon, on October 9, 2006. It conducted its fifth nuclear test last September, and there are rumors that a sixth will come within weeks or months. The United States has tried to both negotiate with and sanction North Korea while strengthening deterrence with South Korea and conducting shows of force to underscore the U.S. commitment to South Korean defense, but these measures have not halted, much less reversed, North Korea’s nuclear program. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of September 30, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
pyongyang-womencrossdmz Female activists from around the world representing the group WomenCrossDMZ arrive at Pyongyang airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo taken and released by Kyodo, May 19, 2015. (Kyodo/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Samir Kumar, Gabriella Meltzer, David O’Connor, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Women activists urge Ban Ki-moon to formally end Korean War. Over 100 women activists from thirty-eight countries are putting pressure on United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to formally end the Korean War prior to the end of his tenure on December 31, 2016. Read more »