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  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: A trifecta of international gatherings – the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Beijing, the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Nay Pyi Taw, and the G-20 gathering in Brisbane – had heads of state from around the globe, including US President Barack Obama, flocking to the Asia-Pacific as 2014 was winding to a close. North Korea was not included in these confabs but its leaders (although not the paramount one) were taking their charm offensive almost everywhere else in an (unsuccessful) attempt to block a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Pyongyang's human rights record. More successful was Pyongyang's (alleged) attempt to undermine and embarrass Sony Studios to block the release of a Hollywood film featuring the assassination of Kim Jong Un.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Bruce Klingner
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: For some Asian experts, Kim Jong-un's December 2013 purge of his uncle and éminence grise, Jang Song-taek, changed everything. Hopes that the young, Western-educated North Korean leader would initiate long-predicted reform were dashed, replaced by rising fears of instability in the nuclear-armed nation. For other analysts, the purge merely affirmed everything that had seemed so obvious since the coronation of Kim petit-fils, namely that he would maintain the policies of his predecessors, though in a more erratic and riskier manner. Regardless of who was right, what are the policy implications going forward?
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Kent Harrington, Bennett Ramberg
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: After several years of uncertainty about Kim Jong-un and his grip on power, analysis of North Korea has settled back into well-worn patterns. In Washington, Seoul, and elsewhere, mainstream commentary seems to have shelved concerns about the North's stability, returning instead to questions that represent hearty perennials for Pyongyang watchers: Is Kim prepared to open the North's moribund economy to Chinese-style reform, or is the latest dynastic offspring simply intent on the survival of his draconian family regime? Do the North's rhetoric and intermittent provocations threaten conflict, or are they simply more of the same theatrics out of an isolated elite? Notwithstanding its long history of broken pledges, is a nuclear deal possible—or are the North's weapons permanently in its arsenal? Add to all this the focus on North Korea's recent offer to Tokyo to investigate the fate of scores of Japanese citizens kidnapped by its agents since the 1960s, as well as the warming relations with Moscow as President Putin reaches out to burnish Russia's Asian role, and attention to Pyongyang's new normalcy appears to have supplanted anxiety about the regime's potential to fall.
  • Political Geography: Washington, North Korea, Tokyo
  • Author: John S. Park
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: At no point in the history of U.S. nonproliferation and counterproliferation policy have financial sanctions been so central to U.S. efforts to prevent or rollback the acquisition of nuclear weapons in countries such as North Korea and Iran. Despite this crucial role, financial sanctions have been examined almost solely from the sender's perspective, that is, the country imposing the sanctions. Few focused policy analyses have measured the effects of these instruments from the target's perspective.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, North Korea
  • Author: Duk-min Yun, Wooseon Choi
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The North Korean nuclear problem has entered a new stage as Pyongyang has developed more robust nuclear capabilities with the successful launch of a long - range missile in December 2012, a third nuclear test in 2013, and further missile tests in June 2014. The United States is now beginning to face the real risk that North Korea could soon develop the capability to directly strike the U.S. homeland. This situation has also raised concern among South Koreans about the credibility of extended deterrence provided by the United States. At the same time, the chances of a North Korean provocation have increased as conventional deterrence becomes less important.
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It was a rough four months for the US as Washington struggled to convince Asian audiences that the “rebalance” is sustainable given renewed attention to the Middle East, even before the Syrian crises. US engagement in Asia was multidimensional with participation at several ministeriallevel meetings, a visit by Vice President Biden, continued pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and a show of military capability in Korea. But, it isn't clear North Korea got the message. Kim Jong Un seems to have adopted his father's play book: first create a crisis, make lots of threats, and follow up with a “smile diplomacy” campaign. So far, Washington has stuck to its game plan, insisting on a sign of genuine sincerity before opening a dialogue with Pyongyang. Finally, the US image in the region was damaged by revelations about classified NSA intelligence collection efforts.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: China, Washington, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Ellen Kim, Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The highlight of US-ROK relations was the first summit between Barack Obama and Park Geunhye in Washington where the two presidents celebrated the 60th birthday of the alliance. Obama announced his support for Park's “trustpolitik” initiative, demonstrating bilateral agreement on policies toward North Korea. The US also voiced support for the thaw in inter-Korean relations reflected in resumption of dialogue over the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Meanwhile, South Korea and the US agreed to an extension of the US-ROK civil nuclear agreement, began negotiations on a Special Measures Agreement (host nation support for US forces), and restarted discussions on a possible delay of OPCON transfer.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Washington, North Korea
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: So far this year, ups and downs on the Korean Peninsula have coincided conveniently with Comparative Connections' deadlines. Had this journal still been published quarterly, as it used to, our first report of 2013 would have come out in the middle of what we can now look back on as North Korea's spring saber-rattling. Most of that was rhetoric, albeit extreme even by DPRK standards. The main actual event, the suspension of the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), broke just as we would have been going to press. But as it was, Comparative Connections' now thrice-yearly schedule enabled us to cover this lengthy hissy-fit in its entirety. This time the date fit is not quite so neat, but as of early September it is a relief to report that inter-Korean relations are on the up again; they could hardly have gone lower. This has been an interesting four months. Pyongyang abruptly changed its tune, demanding the immediate reopening of the KIC no less peremptorily than it had earlier closed it. Both attitudes were exasperating and hard to explain, but at least the North's new “peace offensive” offers some hope of a more constructive approach. At the same time this challenged the South, forcing it to put flesh on the bones of President Park Geun-Hye's “trustpolitik” and make hard decisions on two levels: what principles to adopt in dealing with a now partly more pliant North and – on that basis – how precisely to respond on a whole range of immediate concrete issues. This was a steep learning curve, which the new ROK administration mostly handled with a skillful mix of firmness and flexibility – except for one mistaken and avoidable row over protocol, discussed below, which delayed the rapprochement by a month or so.
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Nicholas D. Anderson, Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Is revolution similar to the Arab Spring possible in North Korea? The answer from most scholars and intelligence analysts has been “no”—that the Pyongyang regime's stability in the aftermath of the events in the Middle East and North Africa is an “old question” that was answered in the 1990s when the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea) faced the most critical test of its life, and survived. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the drastic cuts in patron aid from China, and the onset of famine that killed hundreds of thousands all constituted the ultimate test of DPRK stability, and the regime staggered on through it all. Thus, the assumption is that the Arab Spring has little relevance to the DPRK. The scholarly literature tends to support this assessment. Scholars like Georgetown University's Daniel Byman have argued that Kim Jong-il has effectively “coup-proofed” himself through an elaborate system of patronage, bribery, and draconian rule.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arab Spring
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There was a brief period during the past four months –16 days to be precise – when it looked like a breakthrough was possible in the longstanding nuclear stalemate with North Korea; then Pyongyang reverted to form. Shortly after pledging to freeze all nuclear and missile tests, Pyongyang announced a satellite launch, pulling the rug out from under Washington (and itself) and business as usual (or unusual) returned to the Peninsula. The announcement also cast a shadow over the second Nuclear Security Summit hosted by Seoul while providing additional rationale for Washington's “pivot” toward Asia.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Washington, Taiwan, Beijing, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Bonnie Glaser, Brittany Billingsley
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China's next leader, Xi Jinping, traveled to the US for a visit that went smoothly and laid a foundation for a strong bilateral relationship after the 18th Party Congress this fall. Senior US and Chinese officials delivered speeches to mark the 40th anniversary of Nixon's 1972 visit to China, highlighting the progress made and the importance of the bilateral relationship while recognizing the deep mutual strategic mistrust. The third Asia-Pacific Consultation was held to manage suspicious and enhancement cooperation. President Obama met Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit and coordinated planned responses to North Korea's satellite launch. Friction increased with the filing of a complaint with the WTO that charged China with manipulating prices of rare earth elements. Beijing angered the Obama administration at the UN Security Council by vetoing a resolution that called for Syria's president to step down. But as the violence worsened, the Council passed a resolution that authorized observers to monitor the ceasefire. China rebuffed US entreaties to reduce tis oil imports from Iran and the US imposed sanctions on a Chinese company for selling refined oil to Iran. A Chinese dissident sought assistance by entering the US Embassy, creating potential new challenges for the relationship.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The most significant news in early 2012 centered on North Korea's rocket launch. In a slightly different twist to the pattern, this latest provocation came just two weeks after reaching what seemed to be a new deal with the US to freeze its missile and nuclear programs in exchange for food assistance. After Pyongyang went ahead with the launch in defiance of its international agreements and its so-called “Leap Day” deal with the US, it felt like Groundhog Day. The question soon became how soon a nuclear test might be in the offing. Meanwhile, the KORUS FTA finally took effect after seven years of deliberation, and US sanctions on Iran and US beef imports to the ROK also reemerged as issues for the relationship.
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Covering inter-Korean relations for Comparative Connections has been a roller-coaster ride, given the peninsula's changeable political weather. Even so, the current state of affairs is unprecedented. Pyongyang has spent the whole of 2012 hurling ever ruder and angrier jibes at ROK President Lee; plumbing the depths even by North Korean standards. In April, KCNA published and trumpeted a set of vicious cartoons that depict Lee as a rat being gorily done to death. From the viewpoint of inter-Korean relations, the past four months essentially saw almost no interaction except this one-sided name-calling. Unsurprisingly Seoul did have a few words to say in response, which only served to rile Pyongyang more. Wading through filth is no fun, but duty must be done as we describe and try to interpret North Korea's slander campaign, which showed ominous signs of escalating from words to deeds. In some obscure way, one intended function may be to boost the callow Kim Jong Un, so we also briefly report his formal accession to the DPRK's top leadership posts.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China and South Korea have designated 2012 as a year of friendship to mark 20 years of diplomatic relations. The anniversary may provide a pretext for more active diplomacy to meet a growing list of potential disputes in the relationship, including China's handling of North Korean refugees, illegal fishing in Korean territorial waters, territorial claims, and mutual suspicions regarding approaches toward North Korea. All of this is occurring in a period of political transition in both countries, as South Korea prepares for December elections while China works out a complex leadership transition later this year. Presidents Hu Jintao and Lee Myung-bak have held two summits this year, in Beijing in January and in Seoul on March 26 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. On his state visit to China from Jan. 9-11, Lee also met Premier Wen Jiabao and top legislator Wu Bangguo. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met President Lee and ROK counterpart Kim Sung-hwan on March 2 during his visit to Seoul for annual inter¬ministerial consultations. The two foreign ministers also met in Ningbo, China, on April 8 for the sixth China-ROK-Japan Foreign Ministers Meeting. Sino-South Korean diplomatic exchanges have sharpened attention on the prospects for the bilateral partnership in the aftermath of Kim Jong Il's death
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea
15. Sisyphus
  • Author: David C. Kang, Jiun Bang
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The most dramatic events affecting relations in early 2012 concerned North Korea. The power transition appears to be proceeding smoothly, although mixed signals give signs that a clear foreign policy has not yet been worked out by the leadership in Pyongyang. Meanwhile, relations between South Korea and Japan continued on their seemingly disconnected tracks. In economic relations and day-to-day issues, they continue to move closer together on issues from dealing with tax evasion to joint disaster relief planning. Yet, territorial claims or claims about history are a constant irritant that threaten to derail relations at any time. Both sides seemingly wanted relations to worsen by picking fights over Dokdo/Takshima and making claims about history. One could dismiss the squabbling as peripheral to the main relationship, but these disputes hinder coordination and planning over important issues, divert diplomatic attention, and remain salient for domestic politics of both sides.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The only good news to report when it comes to Korean Peninsula denuclearization is the absence of any new really bad news over the past four months. North Korea's widely predicted (including by us) third nuclear test or follow-on missile launch did not occur. No one anticipated any serious movement toward resumption of the stalled Six-Party Talks, and those expectations were met. The biggest multilateral surprise came from ASEAN, which for the first time in its 45-year history, concluded its annual ministerial meeting without issuing a chairman's statement or communiqué. The ministers at the follow-on ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) did produce a summary, which once again highlighted the need for broader multilateral cooperation throughout the region, including the South China Sea. Economic ministers were equally productive in meetings in August, when among things they launched the first East Asian Summit Economic Ministers Meeting and the inaugural ASEAN-US Business Summit.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There is very little to be said about relations between the two Koreas in the middle four months of 2012. And under a sensible new dispensation granted by this esteemed journal's editors, I need not pretend otherwise. Usually guilty of over-writing (probably in more senses than one) when there was much to report and comment on, for once this time we shall be brief.
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Senior-level dialogue between China and North Korea resumed this summer when head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) International Department Wang Jiarui became the first senior foreign visitor to meet Kim Jong Un. Previously, there had been a great deal of speculation regarding the absence of leadership exchanges since Kim Jong Il's death. Several other high- level exchanges followed. Discussions focused on reconciling priorities and Chinese support for Kim Jung Un's consolidation of power. Although more subdued, there were also several high- level exchanges between China and South Korea as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties, initiated talks on establishing a bilateral free trade agreement, held the second round of strategic defense talks, and sparred over South Korean concerns about human rights.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: China, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: David C. Kang, Jiun Bang
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Diplomatic disputes between Korea and Japan over historical issues and territory flared yet again this summer, being by far the most serious row since the mid - 2000s. With both sides focused far more on proving the others' misdeeds than on finding some stable equilibrium, the disputes threatened to spill over and affect economic relations as well as distract leaders from focusing on a number of pressing domestic and foreign issues. We try to avoid overreactions in this forum, hence the title. Korea - Japan relations are nowhere near falling off a cliff, but without stabilizing relations, there are potential deleterious bilateral and regional effects that could result from the current disputes. There were three underlying themes that characterized and reinforced the general lack of rapport: first, the reverberations from these bilateral disputes onto third parties (US, China, and North Korea); second, the domestic sources of foreign policy (known as the “ second - image ” in international relations theory); and third , deliberate moves toward negative issue - linkage in stymieing diplomatic relations in the region.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, North Korea, Korea
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Regional Overview:………………………………………………………………………………1 More of the Same, Times Three by Ralph A. Cossa and Brad Glosserman, Pacific Forum CSIS Last quarter we noted that the US profile in Asia rising and China‟s image was falling, while questioning if North Korea was changing. This quarter has been marked by more of the same. President Obama made a high-profile trip to Asia, visiting India, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Clinton give a major address in Honolulu (co-hosted by the Pacific Forum CSIS) on US Asia policy, before her sixth trip to Asia, making seven stops before ending up in Australia, where she linked up with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for a 2+2 meeting with their Aussie counterparts. Gates also visited Hanoi in early October and stopped by Malaysia on his way home from Australia, while the USS George Washington paid a return visit to the Yellow Sea before participating in a joint US-Japan military exercise near Okinawa. Beijing appeared to back off its aggressive stance in the East China Sea and South China Sea and uttered hardly a peep in response to the US aircraft carrier operations off Korea‟s west coast. It did, however, continue to protect and essentially enable Pyongyang‟s bad behavior. Pyongyang once again offered an “unconditional” return to the Six-Party Talks while reinforcing the preconditions that stand in the way of actual denuclearization. 2010 proved to be a generally good year, economically, as most economies bounced back. It was not that good a year politically for Obama, although he did succeed in pressing the Senate in a lame duck session to vote on the New START Treaty with the Russians, which was ratified at quarter‟s end. US-Japan Relations:…..………………………………………………………………………..17
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, India, Asia, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Last quarter we noted that the US profile in Asia was on the rise and China‟s image was falling, while questioning if North Korea was changing, as Beijing, among others, seemed to insist. This quarter has been marked by more of the same, on all three fronts.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Michael J. Green, Nicholas Szechenyi
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Prime Minister Kan Naoto opened the quarter with a speech promising a government that would deliver on domestic and foreign policy, but public opinion polls indicated he was failing on both fronts, damaging his own approval rating and that of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The US and Japanese governments continued a pattern of coordination at senior levels and North Korea‟s bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23 furthered trilateral diplomacy with South Korea and exchanges among the three militaries. President Obama met with Kan on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leader‟s Meeting in Yokohama to take stock of the relationship, though a once-anticipated joint declaration on the alliance did not materialize and the optics of the meeting appeared designed to lower expectations as the Futenma relocation issue remained unresolved. A bilateral public opinion survey on US-Japan relations released at the end of the quarter captured the current dynamic accurately with Futenma contributing to less sanguine views but convergence in threat perception and an appreciation for the role of the alliance in maintaining regional security as encouraging signs for the future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, North Korea, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: US -Korea relations in the last quarter of 2010 centered around two major events. On the economic front, even though Presidents Barack Obama and Lee Myung-bak failed to seal a deal on the KORUS Free Trade Agreement (FTA) during their meeting on the margins of the G20 in Seoul, the two countries reached final agreement a few weeks later, potentially opening a new era in bilateral relations pending approval in the two legislatures. Meanwhile, North Korea‟ s revelation of its uranium enrichment facility and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island raised a real possibility of war on the peninsula. South Korea and the US once again demonstrated their strong security alliance and solidarity even at the risk of a military conflict. North Korea‟ s artillery attack quelled ongoing diplomatic efforts to resume the Six-Party Talks, as the prospect for early resumption vanished.
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea, Korea
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Oct. 2, 2010: US Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Leon Panetta makes a surprise visit to Seoul to discuss North Korean succession with President Lee Myung-bak. Oct. 6, 2010: US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell visits Tokyo to discuss strategies to deal with North Korea. Oct. 7, 2010: Secretary Campbell visits Seoul for talks on a wide range of issues. Oct. 8, 2010: South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young meets Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington for an annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM). Oct. 10, 2010: North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop dies at his home in Seoul of an apparent heart attack at the age of 87.
  • Topic: Intelligence
  • Political Geography: East Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: North Korea"s artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23 placed the Korean North Korea‟s artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23 placed the Korean Peninsula at the center of regional attention and intensified diplomatic pressures on China as an indispensable player. Beijing mobilized a remarkably swift diplomatic effort in response, sending State Councilor Dai Bingguo to Seoul to meet President Lee Myung-bak and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, and to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jong Il and Vice Premier Kang Sok Ju. Chinese calls for regional dialogue intensified with South Korean efforts to deter North Korea through joint naval exercises with the US in the Yellow Sea and live-fire artillery drills. Despite urgent Chinese entreaties to convene “emergency consultations” among senior envoys, North Korean provocations appeared to undermine already limited prospects for Six-Party Talks. Beijing‟s persistent calls for both Koreas to return to dialogue and Seoul‟s apparent support for inter-Korean dialogue and Six-Party Talks, may open the way for a return to negotiations, but South Korea‟s position remains conditional upon North Korea acknowledging its responsibility for provocations and taking concrete steps to show its commitment to denuclearization.
  • Political Geography: China, North Korea
  • Author: Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Oct. 4, 2010: Japanese Prime Minister Kan Naoto and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEAM) and discuss bilateral relations. Oct. 22, 2010: A group of Japanese and South Korean scholars release a study commissioned by the two governments in which they conclude that Japan"s annexation of Korea was coerced in the face of opposition from Koreans. Oct. 29, 2010: Prime Minister Kan, President Lee, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meet on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vietnam. Nov. 11-12, 2010: South Korea hosts G20 Summit. Nov. 13-14, 2010: Japan hosts APEC Leaders Meeting.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Vietnam
  • Author: Brad Glosserman, Carl Baker
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Sept. 30, 2010: The Koreas hold their first direct military talks (at colonel level) in two years, at Panmunjom. They founder on the wreck of the Cheonan. The South insists on an apology, while the North still demands to send its own inspectors to examine the wreckage. [Ed. Note: Our apologies for incorrectly reporting them as occurring on Oct. 1 in our last issue.] Oct. 1, 2010: At a meeting of their Red Crosses, the two Koreas agree to hold family reunions at the North"s Mt. Kumgang resort Oct. 30-Nov. 5. Oct. 1, 2010: ROK National Assembly confirms Kim Hwang-sik as premier two months after an earlier nominee withdrew. Oct. 2, 2010: North Korea proposes working-level talks on Oct. 15 to discuss ways to restart regular tourism to Mt. Kumgang. Oct. 3, 2010: An unnamed ROK official tells the daily JoongAng Ilbo that in 2007 a senior DPRK diplomat, Ri Gun, inadvertently admitted North Korea"s responsibility for the 1987 bombing of KAL 858, with 115 deaths. Oct. 4, 2010: In Germany for the 20th anniversary of reunifcation, ROK Unification Minister Hyun In-taek says North Korea must change its stance on the Cheonan if it wants the South to consider resuming cross-border tourism.
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The biggest headlines during the first four months of 2011 were generated by the triple tragedy in Japan, which left Tokyo (and much of the rest of the world) shaking, especially over nuclear safety. On the Korean Peninsula, Chinese concerns about the ROK/US “enough is enough” (over?)reaction to North Korean aggressiveness resulted in Beijing's acknowledgment that the road to a solution must run through Seoul, providing a new foundation for a resumption of Six-Party Talks. Meanwhile, elections among the Tibetan diaspora began a long-anticipated political transition, shaking Chinese policy toward the province. More fighting between Thailand and Cambodia over disputed borders has rattled ASEAN as it challenges the most important of its guiding principles – the peaceful resolution of disputes. Economic developments all highlighted growing doubts about the global economic order and the US leadership role. It's easy to predict the biggest headline of the next four month period: "Bin Laden is Dead!" Implications for Asia will be examined in the next issue; initial reactions were predictable.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, North Korea, Cambodia, Tokyo, Thailand
  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US and South Korea continued strong solidarity and close policy coordination on North Korea in early 2011. The US made repeated calls for North Korea to improve its relations with South Korea and show sincerity about denuclearization. The Hu Jintao visit to the US in January paved the way for the first inter-Korean talks since the Yeonpyeong shelling, although they collapsed as the two Koreas could not resolve their dispute over the sinking of the Cheonan. Meanwhile, the US and South Korea agreed to pursue a UNSC Presidential Statement that would denounce North Korea's uranium enrichment program. Possible resumption of US food aid and Jimmy Carter's Pyongyang visit were new variables, although neither brought any change. The KORUS FTA looks near its long-awaited passage in the Congress. With both the Obama and Lee administrations making final efforts to clear all political barriers , it appears that the measure will be passed in both countries in the coming months.
  • Topic: National Security
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of North Korea's artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23, 2010, Chinese officials showed great concern about the possibility of escalation, focusing special concern on the possibility that South Korean military exercises might lead to military escalation. The January summit between Presidents Hu and Obama served to reduce tensions to some degree, especially through a call for resumption of inter-Korean talks in the US-China Joint Statement released at the summit. Following the apparent stabilization of inter-Korean relations, China has stepped up calls for "creating conditions" for the resumption of Six-Party Talks, engaging in diplomatic exchanges with both Koreas, including meetings between Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei and ROK nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac on Feb. 10-11 in Beijing and again on April 26 in Seoul, and through DPRK Vice Minister Kim Kye Gwan's meetings in Beijing with Wu Dawei, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, and Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun respectively in mid-April in China. Although South Korea in April agreed to China's proposed "three-step" process toward restarting Six Party Talks – (1) Inter-Korean, (2) US-DPRK, and (3) Six-Party Talks – this plan makes the resumption of multilateral talks depend most critically on reaching consensus on the preconditions for inter-Korean talks, which remain stalled since a preparatory meeting for inter-Korean defense ministers' talks broke down in February.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The summer months saw a potentially new cycle of US-DPRK dialogue. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's invitation to DPRK Vice-Minister Kim Kye Gwan to visit New York for two days of official talks raised the specter that the North may be ready for re-engagement. Meanwhile, South Korea named a new unification minister, which some perceive to be the harbinger of a shift in its North Korea policy. But reliable sources say that President Lee Myung-bak will not cave so easily on his principles. Elsewhere, the Korea-US free trade agreement remains in limbo as it remains caught in partisan strife within the legislatures of both countries and the US received another lesson in Korea's preferred terminology for Asian geography.
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: High-level exchanges between China and South Korea's foreign and defense ministries appeared to recover momentum as the two countries marked their 19th anniversary of diplomatic relations on Aug. 24. The first China-ROK “strategic defense dialogue” was held in Seoul on July 27 following talks between Defense Ministers Liang Guanglie and Kim Kwan-jin in Beijing on July 15 and in Singapore on June 4 on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue. Foreign Ministers Yang Jiechi and Kim Sung-hwan met June 6 ahead of the Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers Meeting in Budapest and held another round of talks July 21 in Bali on the sidelines of ASEAN regional meetings. But efforts to consolidate the China-ROK strategic partnership have exposed policy differences over North Korea and the ROK alliance relationship with the US.
  • Topic: Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: David C. Kang, Jiun Bang
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: South Korea and Japan are neighbors that are advanced, technologically sophisticated capitalist economies with capable and well-educated populations, and are fully consolidated liberal democracies. They share an alliance with the US, and generally view themselves as stalwart regional allies. As has been the case for many years, relations between them during the past four months were relatively stable, with increasingly deep economic relations, voluminous cultural flows, and general agreement on a strategy of isolation toward North Korea. They also share a tendency to provoke each other over their shared history and the ownership of several islets that sit between them. When this happens, the media goes into a frenzy, breathlessly reporting the latest incident. But which is reality? Do the historical disputes meaningfully affect their bilateral relations? On the one hand, yes: they could cooperate more closely on issues such as military coordination and a free-trade agreement. On the other hand, no: it's not at all clear that historical issues are holding up cooperation and relations are deeper across a range of issues.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Ellen Kim, Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's state visit to the US was a big event that attested to the strength of the two countries' relationship and the personal ties between Presidents Obama and Lee. The timely passage of the KORUS FTA in the US was the big deliverable for the summit. Final ratification of the FTA in both countries clears one longstanding issue and lays the foundation for greater economic integration and a stronger alliance. Meanwhile, the most shocking news for the final third of the year was the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in late December. His death disrupted US-DPRK bilateral talks as North Korea observed a mourning period for its late leader. The US and South Korea spent the last two weeks of December quietly watching developments in North Korea as the reclusive country accelerated its succession process to swiftly transfer power to the anointed successor, Kim Jong Un.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No reader of Comparative Connections needs telling that Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader since 1994, died of a heart attack on Dec. 17. (The wider public is something else. The young woman who looks after this writer's baby had never heard of Korea, much less North Korea, or that anything had happened there. We specialists should never assume too much.)
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Chicago
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Beijing underscored maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula following Kim Jong Il's death. DPRK leadership succession raises questions about the future direction of China's Korea policy, which was most recently reaffirmed during an October visit to the two Koreas by Vice Premier Li Keqiang, the presumed successor of Premier Wen Jiabao. Prior to Kim's death, China and North Korea maintained regular contacts with senior national, party, and military officials. There have also been mutual efforts to stabilize Sino-South Korean relations despite many differences that have risen in the aftermath of North Korea's 2010 provocations. The fourth China-ROK high-level strategic dialogue was held on Dec. 27 in Seoul.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: David C. Kang, Jiun Bang
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The last four months of 2011 were dominated by two leadership changes – the mid-December death of Kim Jong Il and the election of Noda Yoshihiko in September. Kim's death is a watershed event that could mean changes in DPRK policies with repercussions around the region. South Korea and Japan reacted cautiously to the news of Kim's death and the rise of his son, Kim Jong Un, as the new leader of North Korea. Beyond this event, however, Korea-Japan relations showed little change. Economic relations between South Korea and Japan continue to move slowly forward, even as they remain firmly stuck arguing the same issues that have aggravated diplomatic relations for decades. North Korea-Japan relations also showed little change as both sides repeated the usual accusations, but neither showed any inclination to change. Meanwhile, there were three main trends in relations. First, external forces drove state behavior as evidenced by the almost domino-like efforts at free trade agreements. Second, there was growing recognition of the high domestic political costs associated with non-pliable issues such as the comfort women/sex slaves. Third, there was a realization that change could mean opportunity as Seoul and Tokyo contemplate the post-Kim Jong Il landscape in North Korea.
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Tokyo, Korea
  • Author: Yu Bin
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The last four months of 2011 were both ordinary and extraordinary for Beijing and Moscow. There was certainly business as usual as top leaders and bureaucrats frequented each other's countries for scheduled meetings. The world around them, however, was riddled with crises and conflicts. Some (Libya and Syria) had seriously undermined their respective interests; others (Iran and North Korea) were potentially more volatile, and even dangerous, for the region and the world. Regardless, 2011 was a year full of anniversaries with symbolic and substantive implications for not only China and Russia, but also much of the rest of the world.
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Iran, Beijing, North Korea, Libya, Moscow, Syria
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: High-level US efforts to convince Burma's military government to open its political system to the democratic opposition and release political prisoners prior to scheduled 2010 elections accelerated this quarter. President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Assistant Secretary of State Campbell all weighed in during meetings in Burma and at the first ASEAN-US summit in Singapore after the annual APEC leaders meeting. The ASEAN states welcomed the first US summit with all 10 members. Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan noted that President Obama's praise for ASEAN's key role in Asian international organizations debunked claims by some that ASEAN is no longer the centerpiece of the region's architecture. Singapore's prime minister insisted that the US continues to be Asia's “indispensable” player despite the rise of China and India. In the Philippines, the Visiting Forces Agreement continues to be a political football in domestic Philippine politics as President Arroyo's political opponents claim that the US military violates the Philippine constitution by engaging in combat – an allegation denied by both the US embassy and the Philippine government. On a tip from the US, Thai authorities detained a cargo aircraft coming from North Korea with a load of sophisticated weapons in violation of a UN Security Council Resolution.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea, Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: During the last quarter of 2009 relations between the two Koreas maintained the slight improvement seen since late August, when two senior Northern figures visited Seoul and met the hitherto excoriated President Lee Myung-bak. This easing is a relief compared to the first year and a half of Lee's presidency, during which North-South ties went from bad to worse. Yet it is premature to suggest any substantial improvement – much less a return to the engagement of the “Sunshine” decade (1998-2007), which must now be consigned to history. Rather, what we see is mixed signals from Pyongyang, and to some extent also from Seoul. Having got past initial hostilities, the two governments are now testing and sounding each other out. This is not happening in a vacuum, but in the context of two wider imponderables: whether Kim Jong-il will return to nuclear dialogue in any shape or form, plus the opaque and delicate process of installing his third son Kim Jong-eun as his anointed successor. A surprise currency redenomination in early December, rendering most North Koreans' savings worthless and reportedly provoking protests, is a reminder that the North's internal stability cannot be taken for granted – and a blow to those who still aver that the DPRK is at some level trying to change for the better.
  • Topic: Government, History
  • Political Geography: North Korea, Korea
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Relations between Japan and the two Koreas were relatively uneventful in the final quarter of 2009. The new Hatoyama government quickly began to show more attention to its relations with its East Asian neighbors and hinted at a small change in priorities with respect to North Korea. South Korea and Japan said mostly all the right things, even while substantively it seemed fairly clear that they continued to have very different opinions about territorial and historical disputes. However, no real movement or dramatic changes came about during the quarter, setting the stage for 2010 – the 100th “anniversary” of Japan's annexation of Korea.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Japan, East Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ross Matzkin-Bridger
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The first quarter of 2010 set the stage for what should be a busy year in US-Korea relations. The Six-Party Talks remain stalled, although dire conditions in the North may force Kim Jong-il back to negotiations soon. While North Korea continues to demand concessions before a return to talks, the US shows no sign of caving in. In South Korea, there was a flurry of mixed signals on whether the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) to Seoul scheduled to be completed in 2012 would go ahead as planned. Prospects for the US-ROK free trade agreement got a boost from President Obama and his administration, however, it remains uncertain when the deal will move to Congress for ratification. Finally, the issue of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing in South Korea has made its way to the forefront of US-Korea relations, where it will likely remain for some years.
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: 2010 is a year of anniversaries on the Korean Peninsula, many of them miserable. It is the centenary of Japan's occupation of Korea in 1910, an event unlikely to be much marked on either side of the Sea of No Agreed Name, given how bitter Korean memories remain. This June marks 60 years since a by-then partitioned peninsula erupted into a civil war which technically is not over, since the 1953 Armistice Agreement was never followed by a peace treaty. For South Koreans, April 1960 celebrates the ouster of their authoritarian first leader, Syngman Rhee, in an all too brief democratic interlude before soldiers seized power in Seoul. Twenty years later, May 1980 marks the bloody suppression of a rising against military dictatorship in Gwangju in the southwestern Jeolla region, still the heartland of political opposition in South Korea. Seven years later the generals were forced back to barracks for good – a rare achievement in Asia – and a sometimes fractious democracy has since grown strong roots.
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Korean Peninsula
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China and North Korea sustained high-level contacts during the quarter, but there seems to be little to show for it. Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, met Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang and delivered a letter from President Hu Jintao, reportedly extending an invitation to Kim to visit China. Following the visit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed Pyongyang's “persistent stance” toward denuclearization while Hu affirmed that friendly ties is China's “consistent policy” toward Pyongyang. Two weeks later Kim Yong-il, director of the International Affairs Department of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee, visited Beijing, where he met President Hu. North Korea's major push to attract foreign investment appears to involve potential economic deals that Beijing has claimed do not violate UN resolutions toward the North. Meanwhile, Chinese leaders presented a positive outlook for the resumption of Six-Party Talks on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March. Having received the title of representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, China's lead representative to the Six-Party Talks Wu Dawei stated that talks might resume before July this year in light of favorable diplomatic contacts with Pyongyang. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi expressed support for improved inter-Korean and US-DPRK ties. China and South Korea officially launched Visit China Year 2010, pledging to strengthen their strategic cooperative partnership through intensified diplomatic, cultural, and economic exchanges. ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan held talks with Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Hopes for a resumption of Six-Party Talks this past quarter were torpedoed when an international investigation team concluded that the ROK Navy ship Cheonan was deliberately attacked by a North Korean submarine. The Chinese, while scuttling plans for UNSC censure of Pyongyang, fired a warning shot of their own, denying Defense Secretary Gates' request for a China visit after the Shangri-La Dialogue in June in a sign of continued displeasure over US arms sales to Taiwan. Also once again torpedoed, this time by an oil spill, was President Obama's twice-delayed “homecoming” visit to Indonesia.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, North Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The second quarter saw a series of major events in US-ROK relations. With the sinking of the Cheonan in late March, the quarter saw the possible return to armed conflict in Korea. The North Korean torpedo attack on the South Korean warship caused the two Koreas to break ties, intensified the tension along the border, and blasted hopes for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Meanwhile, the US-ROK alliance was at its zenith as the US showed solidarity with South Korea on its response to the provocation and put pressure on China to support a strong UN Security Council measure identifying North Korea as being responsible for the attack. The two presidents announced a delay in transfer of wartime operational control and President Obama, in a surprise announcement on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Toronto, called for ratification of the KORUS FTA. Though these two developments were not a direct result of the Cheonan sinking, they were influenced by a desire by both allies to show strong, deep partnership in the face of North Korean threats, and perhaps more important, by a personal chemistry between the two leaders that is unique in the history of the alliance.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Toronto
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In mid-May, long-simmering political tension in Thailand between the Bangkok elite establishment and urban lower classes as well as those in northern Thailand who feel ignored by the center erupted in the worst political violence in decades. Tentative US efforts to mediate were rejected by the Thai government, though the opposition appeared to welcome a US role. A tense calm has been restored, but the prospect for renewed violence is palpable. While the Indonesian government expressed understanding for President Obama's second postponement of a visit to his childhood home because of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, opposition Muslim politicians claimed the real reason for the postponement was the Israeli attack on a Turkish flotilla running Israel's Gaza blockade. A number of Muslim leaders stated that Obama wished to avoid encountering Indonesian ire for his country's pro-Israeli stand. The election of Benigno Aquino III as the Philippines' 15th president was greeted by international observers as a generally fair and transparent process. The president-elect has stated he plans to review the country's Visiting Forces Agreement with the US to modify its pro-US bias. Washington continues to criticize Burma's preparations for elections scheduled for October as marginalizing the political opposition. The US is also concerned that Burma may be clandestinely importing materials from North Korea for a nascent nuclear weapons program.
  • Political Geography: United States, Indonesia, Israel, North Korea, Philippines, Burma, Mexico, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Bangkok
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: To state what in my country we call the bleedin' obvious, this was the worst quarter in inter-Korean relations of the near-decade (starting in 2001) that Comparative Connections has been covering this relationship. On the rare occasions when the peninsula makes global headlines, or even more rarely moves markets, it tends not to be good news. Thus it was on May 24-25, when for the first time in many years the world seriously wondered whether the two Koreas might go to war again – almost 60 years after they fatefully did so the first time. Fortunately both backed away from the brink. On closer inspection there was both more and less to this than at first met the eye. But it was a perilous moment; and though it now seems to have passed, it leaves North-South relations in a pit from which no easy exit is apparent. The cause, of course, is the sinking of the ROK corvette Cheonan on March 26. Yet this did not erupt as a crisis until late May. The course of those two months is fascinating in its own right, and has been under-examined in the welter of comment and controversy. It reveals, we suggest, an odd mix of tactical skill and strategic flailing by Seoul. As of early July, with ROK President Lee Myung-bak still smarting from an unexpected rebuff in local elections a month ago, one must conclude that North Korea's torpedo scored a bulls-eye. Despite delivering a remarkable economic recovery and chairing the G20, “bulldozer” Lee is now on the back foot: just as Kim Jong-il intended. It was nasty and negative, but it worked. In Pyongyang's eyes, this counts as a win – even though from any sensible perspective it is a loss for both Koreas, and their relations.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Sinai Peninsula