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  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: North Korea last week rejected South Korea’s invitation to attend the Seoul Defense Dialogue in September, denigrating the talks as “puerile.” In the same breath, it also rejected a proposal by National Assembly speaker Chung Ui-hwa for a meeting with his northern counterpart to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Korean Peninsula on Aug. 15. If you ask an Obama administration official about America’s “strategic patience” policy of non-dialogue with North Korea, he or she will tell you that the problem is not an unwillingness on the part of the United States to have dialogue. On the contrary, the Obama administration has tried every channel possible, from six-party talks to personal communications to secret trips, to jump-start a dialogue. But the regime in Pyongyang has rejected all of these.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, International Security
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: North Korea last week rejected South Korea’s invitation to attend the Seoul Defense Dialogue in September, denigrating the talks as “puerile.” In the same breath, it also rejected a proposal by National Assembly speaker Chung Ui-hwa for a meeting with his northern counterpart to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Korean Peninsula on Aug. 15. If you ask an Obama administration official about America’s “strategic patience” policy of non-dialogue with North Korea, he or she will tell you that the problem is not an unwillingness on the part of the United States to have dialogue. On the contrary, the Obama administration has tried every channel possible, from six-party talks to personal communications to secret trips, to jump-start a dialogue. But the regime in Pyongyang has rejected all of these.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Korean Peninsula
  • 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: Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US extended deterrent in Northeast Asia is strong. US alliances with Japan and South Korea are each arguably in the best shape in years, with alliance modernization efforts proceeding in tandem with domestic adjustments to security policy that strengthen the foundation for cooperative action. Policy toward North Korea, historically a wedge between Washington and allied governments in the region, is largely aligned, and serving as a glue rather than a source of discord. This otherwise sunny outlook is darkened by the difficulties in the Seoul-Tokyo relationship. The (from a US perspective) obvious convergence of interests among the three governments is overshadowed by a lengthy and depressingly well-rehearsed list of problems. The second US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Extended Deterrence Dialogue, hosted by Pacific Forum CSIS and the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, with indirect support from the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), explored ways to overcome those obstacles to enhanced cooperation. In an attempt to push the envelope, the 43 senior participants from the three countries joined 17 Pacific Forum Young Leaders (all attending in their private capacities) in discussions and a tabletop exercise that was designed to explore reactions to a nuclear contingency on the Korean Peninsula. The results were sobering and underscored the need for increased coordination and planning among the three governments to prepare for such a crisis in Northeast Asia.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As a result of a speech delivered by Republic of Korea (ROK) president Park Geun- hye in Dresden, Germany, on March 28, 2014, the topic of unification of the Korean peninsula has been on the minds of many. This is, of course, not the first time that unification has been in the news. During the Cold War era, unification was defined as the absolute military victory of one side over the other. In Korean, this was known as “songgong t'ongil” or “p'ukch'in t'ongil” (“march north” or “unification by force”). In political science literature influenced by the European experience, it was defined as the perfect integration of the two countries. After the reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990, unification was seen as the economic and political absorption of one side by the other. And yet at other times, it was defined, by both North and South Korea, as the imperfect operation of one country, two systems. For a decade during the period of “sunshine” policy, 1997–2007, unification was defined as something to be avoided for generations. It was framed as an outcome that was too difficult to contemplate, too dangerous to suggest, and too expensive to afford.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Germany
  • 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: Joseph S. Nye, Richard L. Armitage
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This report on the U.S.-Japan alliance comes at a time of drift in the relationship. As leaders in both the United States and Japan face a myriad of other challenges, the health and welfare of one of the world's most important alliances is endangered. Although the arduous efforts of Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and his colleagues in both governments have largely kept the alliance stable, today's challenges and opportunities in the region and beyond demand more. Together, we face the re-rise of China and its attendant uncertainties, North Korea with its nuclear capabilities and hostile intentions, and the promise of Asia's dynamism. Elsewhere, there are the many challenges of a globalized world and an increasingly complex security environment. A stronger and more equal alliance is required to adequately address these and other great issues of the day.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Israel, Asia, 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
20. 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