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  • 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: 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: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The first four months of 2011 saw no real improvement in relations between the two Koreas. Their sole official contact, military talks in February, broke up in acrimony after two days. A slight easing of South Korea's aid restrictions in April was in response to dire humanitarian need in the North, and probably does not indicate a wider thaw. There was the hint of back-channel talks, but no progress. The obstacles are familiar. Pyongyang's peace offensive as the year began did not impress Seoul as it failed to deal with two stumbling-blocks: the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. The North continues to deny all responsibility for the former and insists it was provoked into the latter. This appears to be a recipe for stalemate, perhaps for the rest of Lee's presidency, which ends in February 2013 – although in Korea surprises are always possible.
  • Topic: Intelligence
  • Political Geography: South Korea, 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: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Just for once, Comparative Connections' deadline chimed neatly with events on the Korean Peninsula. Late on the evening of Aug. 30, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, as part of a mini-reshuffle affecting four Cabinet positions, finally replaced his long-term hard-line unification minister, former academic Hyun In-taek. With Lee's characteristic cronyism, the man nominated to replace Hyun was another of his close advisers – geography professor Yu Woo-ik, once Lee's chief of staff in the Blue House and latterly ROK ambassador to China.
  • Political Geography: Russia, South Korea, 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