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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: 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: 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
10. 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