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Showing posts for "U.S.-ROK Relations"

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reviews the evidence in support of the impeachment motion, Park is sidelined from her official responsibilities and has been replaced by her former prime minister, Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn.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 »

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 »

“Toughest Sanctions Ever”: UN Security Council Resolution 2321

by Scott A. Snyder
The United Nations Security Council votes to approve a resolution that would dramatically tighten existing restrictions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York March 2, 2016. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

The UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passed Resolution 2321 condemning North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, conducted on September 9, 2016. The resolution builds on Resolution 2270 passed by the UNSC only nine months earlier in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test by imposing even tougher restrictions on North Korean maritime and financial activities, misuse of diplomatic channels for commercial purposes, and restrictions on North Korean trade. On paper, UNSC 2321 essentially calls upon member states to place North Korea under economic quarantine unless it reverses course on nuclear development. Read more »

Podcast: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visits at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan on May 27, 2016. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Harvard Professor Joseph Nye once said that “security is like oxygen: you do not tend to notice it until you begin to lose it.” Alliances also often function like oxygen, with the security and stability they provide going underappreciated argues Victor Cha, the director of Asian studies and D.S. Song-Korea Foundation professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University. Read more »

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)

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)

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 »

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)

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 »

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)

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 »

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 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 »