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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 "U.S.-ROK Relations"

THAAD: The Moment of Decision Has Arrived

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. THAAD provides the U.S. military a land-based, mobile capability to defend against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, intercepting incoming missiles inside and outside the earth's atmosphere. (Courtesy REUTERS/U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters) A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. THAAD provides the U.S. military a land-based, mobile capability to defend against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, intercepting incoming missiles inside and outside the earth's atmosphere. (Courtesy REUTERS/U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters)

Sungtae “Jacky” Park is research associate for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and is the author of The Korean Pivot and the Return of Great Power Politics in Northeast Asia. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 22, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bacha-Khan-protest Civil society members take part in protest against the attack on Bacha Khan University at a demonstration in Peshawar, Pakistan, January 21, 2016. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Terrorists kill twenty-one in attack on Pakistani university. On Wednesday, gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district, killing twenty-one people and injuring dozens more. Four attackers were killed in an hours-long gun battle with security guards, local police, and the army in the attempt to secure the campus. Read more »

North Korea’s H-Bomb and the Costs of American Indifference

by Scott A. Snyder
People watch a huge screen broadcasting the government's announcement in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo January 6, 2016. North Korea said it successfully tested a miniaturised hydrogen nuclear bomb on Wednesday, claiming a significant advance in its strike capability and setting off alarm bells in Japan and South Korea. Mandatory credit (Courtesy REUTERS/Kyodo) People watch a huge screen broadcasting the government's announcement in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo January 6, 2016. North Korea said it successfully tested a miniaturised hydrogen nuclear bomb on Wednesday, claiming a significant advance in its strike capability and setting off alarm bells in Japan and South Korea. Mandatory credit (Courtesy REUTERS/Kyodo)

The White House moved quickly to debunk North Korea’s exaggerated claim that a Jan. 5 “artificial earthquake” at the site where Pyongyang had conducted three previous nuclear tests was a breakthrough detonation of a hydrogen bomb. The size of the blast was similar to that of North Korea’s January 2013 test and had a yield thousands of times lower than the yield expected of a hydrogen blast. But in downplaying North Korea’s claim so as not to feed Kim Jong-un’s cravings for international attention, the Barack Obama administration risks underplaying the growing danger posed by North Korea’s unchecked efforts to develop nuclear and missile capabilities needed to threaten a nuclear strike on the United States. Read more »

Domestic Political Obstacles and the U.S. Role in Improving Japan-Korea Relations

by Scott A. Snyder
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye listen during the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) dialogue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines November 18, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/Wally Santana/Pool) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye listen during the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) dialogue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines November 18, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/Wally Santana/Pool)

Despite the resumption of high-level Japan-South Korea ties with the holding of a “cold summit” in Seoul last month between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, prospects for a breakthrough in Japan-South Korea relations remain distant on the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic normalization between Seoul and Tokyo. If anything, the gap between Park and Abe on how to address the issue of comfort women has grown deeper, despite a realization on the part of both governments that the issue must be managed as one part of a broader relationship rather than be allowed to block all forms of cooperation between the two sides. Read more »

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 »

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 »

South Korea’s Delicate Regional Balancing Act

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 7, 2013. (Courtesy REUTERS/Jason Reed) U.S. President Barack Obama meets with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 7, 2013. (Courtesy REUTERS/Jason Reed)

South Korea finds itself at the epicenter of a geostrategic danger zone that is all the more fragile today as a result of frictions resulting from China’s rise. More than ever, a volatile and self-isolated North Korean leadership is perceived as the trigger that could set off the regional powderkeg. Hence, South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s discussion with U.S. President Barack Obama regarding the North Korean issue will be an important and timely one. She will need strong support from the United States in her efforts to maintain South Korea’s delicate position between China and Japan and to stabilize the Korean peninsula. Read more »

The Need for Dual-Track Efforts to Strengthen International Norms in Northeast Asia

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se speaks at the 2014 NAPCI Forum. (Courtesy ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se speaks at the 2014 NAPCI Forum. (Courtesy ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

This post was co-authored with Kang Choi, the vice president of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and director of the Center for Foreign Policy and National Security.

The establishment of a comprehensive vision for the U.S.-ROK alliance is based on converging interests and shared values. As a result, U.S.-ROK coordination in response to North Korean provocations has been strengthened, as demonstrated by how both sides worked together in support of tension-reduction during the recent exchange of fire in August along the DMZ. The United States and South Korea also coordinate regularly on other global issues, which include international public health, international development, and climate change. Nevertheless, a gap in U.S. and South Korean approaches on regional issues remains. The United States has framed its “rebalance” to Asia in regional terms while South Korea’s signature initiative in support of multilateral institution building, the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI), focuses on the sub-region of Northeast Asia. The gap exists despite the fact that both countries share the goal of strengthening a strong foundation for the effective application of international norms within the region. Read more »

Three Geopolitical Constraints on South Korea’s Foreign Policy

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Ruling (Saenuri) Party Chairman Kim Moo-Sung speaks at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2015. (Courtesy: Woodrow Wilson Center) South Korean Ruling (Saenuri) Party Chairman Kim Moo-Sung speaks at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2015. (Courtesy: Woodrow Wilson Center)

Ruling (Saenuri) Party Chairman Kim Moo-Sung led a South Korean National Assembly delegation visit to Washington this week and gave a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.  His speech included three points that nicely summarize the constraints South Korea is currently facing in its foreign policy. Read more »

Korea and the AIIB

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the Korea China Investment Forum at a hotel in Seoul on July 4, 2014. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the Korea China Investment Forum at a hotel in Seoul on July 4, 2014. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters)

Min Hyung Kang is a former intern for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea’s decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member reminded observers of Korea’s place as a middle power caught between great powers. Korea’s interest in joining the AIIB is indicative of improving Korea-China relations, one of the determinants for security of the Korean peninsula. However, to the United States, South Korea’s strongest ally, Korea’s involvement in the AIIB may not be very pleasing especially when the AIIB seems like a mechanism designed to oppose U.S. influence in Asia. It seems that Korea is at a critical moment that may either extensively benefit or severely undermine its national interest. Read more »