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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"

Secretary Kerry’s First Visit to Northeast Asia: Rolling the North Korea Stone Back Up the Hill

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) walks with U.S. Ambasador to South Korea Sung Y. Kim (L) and deputy director general of South Korea's Foreign Ministry Moon Seoung-hyun upon his arrival at a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, April 12, 2013. Kerry begins a three-day visit to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo as U.S. and South Korean officials say the nuclear-armed North appears poised to test a medium-range missile after weeks of threatening statements. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) walks with U.S. Ambasador to South Korea Sung Y. Kim (L) and deputy director general of South Korea's Foreign Ministry Moon Seoung-hyun upon his arrival at a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, April 12, 2013. Kerry begins a three-day visit to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo as U.S. and South Korean officials say the nuclear-armed North appears poised to test a medium-range missile after weeks of threatening statements. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters)

Secretary of State John Kerry’s first visit to Northeast Asia came against the backdrop of increasing tensions stoked by North Korean evacuation announcements and missile-launch threats.  His meetings with new leaders Park Geun-hye, Xi Jinping, and Abe Shinzo succeeded in changing the tone of the conversation about North Korea from a military to a diplomatic focus and to strengthen  diplomatic consultation processes with new administrations in South Korea and China, but it remains to be seen whether there will be substantive shifts in the respective policies of the various governments. Read more »

What Is North Korea’s Next Threat Likely to Be?

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) presides over an urgent operation meeting on the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force's performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang, early March 29, 2013. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) presides over an urgent operation meeting on the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force's performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang, early March 29, 2013. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters)

Given the threat-a-day nature of North Korean actions in recent weeks, I have noticed that many of the media headlines on North Korea are including the word “again.”  I can almost imagine North Korea’s repetition of threats turning into a college drinking game. Read more »

Countering North Korean Brinkmanship

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visits the Wolnae Islet Defence Detachment in the western sector of the front line, which is near Baengnyeong Island of South Korea March 11, 2013. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters) North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visits the Wolnae Islet Defence Detachment in the western sector of the front line, which is near Baengnyeong Island of South Korea March 11, 2013. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters)

I have an op-ed on CNN.com that explains North Korea’s historic patterns of brinkmanship and analyzes whether the current, more extreme round of threats is par for the course or is something new.  My original title for the piece was “What is Behind North Korean Threats,” but CNN named it “Why the North Korea Regime is Scary?” Read more »

South Korea’s Nuclear Debate and the Credibility of U.S. Extended Deterrence

by Scott A. Snyder
The guided missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG62) are seen at a South Korean naval port in Donghae, about 190 km (118 miles) east of Seoul, March 9, 2013. (South Korean Navy/courtesy Reuters) The guided missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG62) are seen at a South Korean naval port in Donghae, about 190 km (118 miles) east of Seoul, March 9, 2013. (South Korean Navy/courtesy Reuters)

North Korea’s third nuclear test last month unleashed an active South Korean debate on nuclear weapons acquisition along with calls for the reintroduction of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to deter and strengthen the U.S. and ROK position in nuclear negotiations. (The debate was nicely summarized here by Toby Dalton and Yoon Ho-jin). South Korea has also displayed its determination to counter any perceived North Korean advantage that might allow it to use nuclear blackmail against South Korea.  As the decibel level of North Korea’s threats has reached unprecedented levels, South Korea has also shown a grim determination to match North Korea’s threats with its own clear and specific signals of resolve. Read more »

Park Geun-hye’s Leadership and South Korea’s Challenges

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's president Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul March 4, 2013. (Lee Jae-Won/courtesy Reuters) South Korea's president Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul March 4, 2013. (Lee Jae-Won/courtesy Reuters)

In the first month since Park Geun-hye’s inauguration as South Korea’s first woman president, she faced an external security environment that she characterized the day after her election as “grave.” In addition, her administration has gotten off to a slow start due to unexpected internal constraints associated with a government reorganization plan that has been hung up in South Korea’s National Assembly. CFR’s Program on U.S.-Korea Policy is featuring two parallel essays by prominent South Korean scholars that provide deeper analysis of the internal and external challenges Park faces as president. Read more »

Troy Stangarone: Prospects for the U.S.-Korea Alliance Under Park and Obama

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye talks with U.S. White House National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon during their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, February 26, 2013.(Lee Jin-man/courtesy Reuters) South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye talks with U.S. White House National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon during their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, February 26, 2013.(Lee Jin-man/courtesy Reuters)

Troy Stangarone is the senior director of congressional affairs and trade at the Korea Economic Institute of America. He was also a Council on Foreign Relations international affairs fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

New administrations have an opportunity for fresh starts. Under presidents Lee Myung-bak and Barack Obama, U.S.-South Korea (ROK) relations developed a level of cooperation that was arguably the closest the alliance has ever shared. This was in contrast to the weakening of South Korea’s ties with its neighbors. Relations with China frayed while those with North Korea deteriorated to an historic low. The incoming Park Geun-hye administration hopes to reverse these trends, but North Korea’s successful nuclear and missile tests present near term obstacles to starting anew with Pyongyang and has left regional actors adopting familiar positions. Read more »

South Korea’s New President Park Geun-hye: Heralding Hope Amidst Tough Realities

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye speaks during her inauguration at the parliament in Seoul February 25, 2013. Park, daughter of former military dictator Park Chung-hee, became the first female president of South Korea on Monday. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters) South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye speaks during her inauguration at the parliament in Seoul February 25, 2013. Park, daughter of former military dictator Park Chung-hee, became the first female president of South Korea on Monday. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters)

South Korea’s new President Park Geun-hye took the oath of office today as South Korea’s first female president, the first Korean president to have previously lived in the Blue House, and the first Korean president to have visited North Korea prior to her term in office.  In her inauguration address, Park vowed to “open a new era of hope” in the face of a global economic crisis and North Korea’s nuclear threat.  She pledged a “creative economy” based on scientific and IT innovation, a “new paradigm of tailored welfare” and a merit-based society that enforces social justice through effective rule of law, a Korean cultural renaissance, and step-by-step efforts to build trust-based diplomacy with North Korea and with South Korea’s other partners. Read more »

The Costs of North Korea’s Defiance

by Scott A. Snyder
A man watches a television report on North Korea's nuclear test at a railway station in Seoul February 12, 2013. North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Tuesday, South Korea's defense ministry said, after seismic activity measuring 4.9 magnitude was registered by the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicentre of the seismic activity, which was only one km below the Earth's surface, was close to the North's known nuclear test site. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters) A man watches a television report on North Korea's nuclear test at a railway station in Seoul February 12, 2013. North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Tuesday, South Korea's defense ministry said, after seismic activity measuring 4.9 magnitude was registered by the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicentre of the seismic activity, which was only one km below the Earth's surface, was close to the North's known nuclear test site. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters)

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) made good on a January 24, 2013, pledge by the National Defense Commission to conduct a nuclear test “of higher level” on February 12, 2013. The statement, which also pledged launches of “a variety of satellites and long-range rockets,” was North Korea’s defiant response to passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2087, which condemned North Korea’s December 12, 2012 launch of a satellite in violation of previous UN Security Council resolutions 1695, 1718, and 1874. Read more »

North Korea’s Third Nuclear Test: Will China Change Direction?

by Scott A. Snyder
China's newly appointed leader Xi Jinping gestures as he attends a meeting with a panel of foreign experts at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 5, 2012. (Ed Jones/courtesy Reuters) China's newly appointed leader Xi Jinping gestures as he attends a meeting with a panel of foreign experts at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 5, 2012. (Ed Jones/courtesy Reuters)

With multiple reports pouring out about North Korea’s preparations for a third nuclear test and KCNA’s own reporting on meetings at which Kim Jong-un has made important decisions, it is clear that diplomatic efforts to prevent North Korea from conducting a third nuclear test are likely to fail. As the international community embarks on the by-now familiar template of pushing for a new UN Security Council resolution and tightening sanctions, the almost universal question will be how far China is willing to go in punishing its erstwhile neighbors in Pyongyang. Read more »

Presidential Inbox: A Strategy to Counter North Korea’s Nuclear Defiance

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. President Obama speaks during a joint news conference with South Korea's President Lee at the Blue House in Seoul. (Yuriko Nakao/courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Obama speaks during a joint news conference with South Korea's President Lee at the Blue House in Seoul. (Yuriko Nakao/courtesy Reuters)

Mr. President, your first administration played “small ball” with North Korea. The policy of “strategic patience” succeeded in weathering North Korean provocations and limited exposure to the political risks that would have accompanied a high profile effort to address North Korea’s nuclear development.  However, the crime and punishment approach to North Korea’s 2009 satellite launch and nuclear test through UN Security Council sanctions, statements, and resolutions has failed to stop North Korea’s growing nuclear and long-range delivery capabilities. Read more »