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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"

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 »

How Korea Can Lead on Climate Change

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul October 23, 2012. The Institute, launched in 2010 to promote green economic growth strategies, was upgraded last week to the status of an international organisation, reported local media. (REUTERS/Jung Yeon-je/Pool) South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul October 23, 2012. The Institute, launched in 2010 to promote green economic growth strategies, was upgraded last week to the status of an international organisation, reported local media. (REUTERS/Jung Yeon-je/Pool)

Note: Asia Unbound is reposting this blog today, as it was supposed to be published this week, not last week when this piece was first published.

Jill Kosch O’Donnell is an independent researcher and writer.

The global climate talks underway in Paris this week, aimed at achieving a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, represent a milestone in an evolving approach to these annual UN-led negotiations. Formerly focused on haggling over developed country targets for emissions reductions, they now emphasize action by all countries, which were supposed to submit national climate change plans ahead of time, known as “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs). This new modus operandi presents an opening for Korea to assert itself as a middle power, drawing on its dual identity as a developing country and an OECD member. But it will not be through the country’s INDC. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of November 20, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Seoul-protests - 11-20-2015 A protester reacts as water mixed with tear gas liquid is sprayed by police water canon to disperse protesters during an anti-government rally in central Seoul, South Korea, November 14, 2015. (Kim Hong-ji/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Antigovernment protests erupt in Seoul. This week, tens of thousands of people filled City Hall plaza in downtown Seoul to protest President Park Geun-hye, demanding her resignation. The protestors wore plastic raincoats to guard against the cannons of water and liquid tear gas fired at them by the police. Read more »

Assessing the First Park-Abe Summit

by Scott A. Snyder
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) talks with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (R) during their meeting at the presidential house in Seoul, South Korea, November 2, 2015. Park and Abe agreed on Monday to try to resolve as soon as possible a row over "comfort women" forced into prostitution in Japanese wartime military brothels, a feud that has been a major obstacle to better ties between two of Washington's key allies. Abe announced the agreement after the first formal talks between the two leaders since both took office, as they seek to move beyond a bitter wartime history that has haunted relations. (Courtesy REUTERS/Song Kyung-Seok/Pool) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) talks with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (R) during their meeting at the presidential house in Seoul, South Korea, November 2, 2015. Park and Abe agreed on Monday to try to resolve as soon as possible a row over "comfort women" forced into prostitution in Japanese wartime military brothels, a feud that has been a major obstacle to better ties between two of Washington's key allies. Abe announced the agreement after the first formal talks between the two leaders since both took office, as they seek to move beyond a bitter wartime history that has haunted relations. (Courtesy REUTERS/Song Kyung-Seok/Pool)

For the first time in over three years, leaders of China, Japan, and South Korea converged on Seoul for a trilateral summit. As host, South Korean Park Geun-hye also held bilateral meetings with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. The reestablishment of the China-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit along with commitments by the leaders to once again regularize the summit process was a reward for months of South Korean diplomatic effort to restore the talks as one antidote to rising regional rivalries and conflict over historical issues in Northeast Asia. Nevertheless, the first bilateral meeting between Park and Abe failed to yield anything tangible beyond the appearance of improving relations between the two sides. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 30, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters) Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters)

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

1. Earthquake survivors in Afghanistan and Pakistan appeal for shelter and supplies. Just six months after a devastating earthquake in Nepal, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook geographically vulnerable regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The epicenter was reported 196 kilometers below the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan. Although the earthquake occurred much deeper than the Nepal earthquake, close to four hundred people have been reported dead, thousands suffered injuries, and many homes were destroyed by the quake and its aftermath. Read more »

Using PSYOP against North Korea

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A South Korean soldier works to remove loudspeakers set up for propaganda purposes near the demiltarized zone in Paju, about 55km (34 miles) north of Seoul June 16, 2004. North and South Korea stopped blaring propaganda at each other across the fortified demilitarised zone border on Tuesday to mark the fourth anniversary of a landmark summit between their leaders. (Courtesy Reuters/You Sung-Ho) A South Korean soldier works to remove loudspeakers set up for propaganda purposes near the demiltarized zone in Paju, about 55km (34 miles) north of Seoul June 16, 2004. North and South Korea stopped blaring propaganda at each other across the fortified demilitarised zone border on Tuesday to mark the fourth anniversary of a landmark summit between their leaders. (Courtesy Reuters/You Sung-Ho)

Andrew Injoo Park is is a former intern for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this blog are Mr. Park’s own and do not reflect those of CFR or its staff and members. CFR takes no institutional stance and prizes independence for the organization’s members and staff. Read more »