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  • 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: 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: 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: 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
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The March 26 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in the West Sea that killed 46 soldiers served as the backdrop for a series of high-level exchanges between China and the two Koreas as China came under international pressure to provide a tough response to the incident. Kim Jong-il paid an “unofficial” visit to China on May 3-7 and met President Hu Jintao in Beijing, days after ROK President Lee Myung-bak's summit with Hu. Kim's delegation included senior officials from the Foreign Ministry, Worker's Party of Korea, and the DPRK Cabinet. Lee attended the April 30 opening ceremony of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, where President Hu also met the DPRK's top legislator Kim Yong Nam. Lee and Hu held another round of bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G20 Summit on June 26 in Toronto, where they pledged to strengthen the China-ROK strategic cooperative partnership despite unresolved tensions over North Korea. Premier Wen Jiabao paid a three-day visit to South Korea on May 28-30 and met President Lee in Seoul prior to the third China-ROK-Japan trilateral meeting in Jeju. Foreign Ministers Yu Myung-hwan and Yang Jiechi also held talks on the sidelines of the fourth trilateral foreign ministers meeting with Japan on May 15-16 in Gyeongju.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The US-China relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. As two of the world's largest economies, there can be no solution to the global economic crisis if the two work at cross purposes and many of the region's most complex security challenges - North Korean denuclearisation first among them - require Sino-US cooperation. The good news is that both US President Barrack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are aware of and accept the shared responsibility and necessity for a cooperative approach toward dealing with the global financial crisis and regional security challenges; both have pledged to develop a "positive, cooperative and comprehensive" relationship and build mutual trust in a way that encourages, rather than worries, friends and allies in the Asia Pacific.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, North Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Negotiating with North Korea is all about contradictions. What can be important one day can become unimportant the next. A position they hold stubbornly for weeks and months can suddenly disappear. But these contradictions tell us a lot about core goals that may lie beneath Pyongyang's rhetoric and the provocative actions which culminated in a second nuclear test on May 25, 2009. Understanding these core goals, moreover, offers insights into how spectacularly unsuccessful North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been as he prepares to step down. What do the North Koreans ultimately want with their recent spate of provocative behavior? What is often stated through the mouths of their foreign ministry officials is only a part of the Pyongyang leadership's broader goals. The judgments that follow are also informed by the experiences and ‘‘gut instincts’’ of those who have negotiated with the regime over the past sixteen years.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, North Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Top-level diplomacy between Beijing and Pyongyang intensified this quarter in honor of China-DPRK Friendship Year and the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Prior to the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-January, Kim Jong-il held his first public meeting since his reported illness with Chinese Communist Party International Liaison Department Head Wang Jiarui. In March, DPRK Prime Minister Kim Yong-il paid a return visit to Beijing. The Chinese have accompanied these commemorative meetings with active diplomatic interaction with the U.S., South Korea, and Japan focused on how to respond to North Korea's launch of a multi-stage rocket. Thus, China finds itself under pressure to dissuade Pyongyang from destabilizing activity and ease regional tensions while retaining its 60-year friendship with the North. Meanwhile, South Korean concerns about China's rise are no longer confined to issues of economic competitiveness; the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis has produced its first public assessment of the implications of China's rising economic capabilities for South Korea's long-term security policies. The response to North Korea's rocket launch also highlights differences in the respective near-term positions of Seoul and Beijing. Following years of expanding bilateral trade and investment ties, the global financial crisis provides new challenges for Sino-ROK economic relations: how to manage the fallout from a potential decline in bilateral trade and the possibility that domestic burdens will spill over and create new strains in the relationship.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Beijing, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The first three months of 2009 saw Japan-North Korea relations go from stalemate to hostility, as North Korea's “satellite” launch on April 5 heightened tensions throughout Northeast Asia. As Pyongyang tried to goad its partners in the Six-Party Talks (the new Obama administration in particular) to induce more favorable terms, Tokyo took steps that may have more far-reaching implications for regional security than merely a plan to deal with the current North Korean missile crisis. Meanwhile, Tokyo and Seoul continued to focus on a practical partnership for economic cooperation and stayed on good terms. The highlight of the quarter was Prime Minister Aso's successful two-day visit to South Korea in mid-January for a summit with President Lee Myung-bak. Although historical issues lingered as a potential factor that might challenge and disrupt this mood of détente, Japan-South Korea relations improved due in no small part to the Lee administration's tough policy toward Pyongyang.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan, North Korea, Tokyo, Korea, Pyongyang