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  • 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
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The past quarter in inter-Korean relations might be called the morning after the night before. Tensions over the sunken ROK corvette Cheonan by no means disappeared; the less so since North Korea still denied responsibility, while the South smarted at its failure to convince key powers – China and Russia above all – of Pyongyang‟s culpability. The Cheonan incident remains a crime and an obstacle. Yet hopeful signs are emerging that both sides realize they will have to get past this eventually and that they might as well start now. Among various small initiatives, including flood aid, the quarter ended on a hopeful note with an agreement to hold a fresh round of reunions of separated families in late October.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, South Korea, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Security, Development, War
  • Political Geography: China, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The two highlights in Japan-Korea relations during this quarter are Prime Minister Kan Naoto‟s apology to South Korea for Japan‟s colonial rule, and the appointment of Kim Jong-un, as vice chairman of the Workers‟ Party Central Military Commission and military general in the Korean People‟s Army. While these developments hold the promise to potentially change the security landscape of Northeast Asia, Prime Minister Kan‟s first full quarter in office reveals that Japan‟s North Korea policy is likely to continue along the lines of previous Japanese administrations, at least for now: an unfavorable attitude coupled with hostility and inaction. Pyongyang‟s attitude toward Tokyo, too, changed little and remained more or less predictable – it denounced Prime Minister Kan for apologizing only to South Korea, criticized Japan for “shamelessly” wanting a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, and demanded compensation for all of Japan‟s past wrongdoings. Japan-South Korea relations appear to be moving closer, although whether Kan‟s apology will truly change anything remains to be seen. Japan keeping a watchful eye on North Korea‟s succession At the quarter‟s end, the Japanese government remained noncommittal but is apparently paying close attention to the North Korea‟s power transition dynamics for signs of whether there is any possible impact on the North‟s stance on either the abduction issue or its nuclear and missile programs. The Japanese media closely followed news about Kim Jong-un‟s appointment as a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission in the Workers‟ Party, which took place a day before the party‟s conference selecting “supreme leadership body.” With no prior military title, little is known about Kim Jong-un, but his new position means that he is responsible for directing North Korea‟s army and for formulating the party‟s military policies. Along with Kim Jong-il‟s sister Kim Kyong-hui‟s promotion to a Central Committee‟s Political Bureau member and her husband Jang Song-taek‟s nomination to the number two position on the National Defense Commission, it appears that a hereditary power transfer may be underway in Pyongyang. The Japanese government made no immediate official comment, but Prime Minister Kan said on Sept. 28 that Japan will “carefully monitor the situation inside North Korea.”
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Tokyo, Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Yu Bin
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: For much of the third quarter, Russia and China were besieged by disasters of various kinds. Leaders sent each other messages to express their sympathy and support while relief materials were delivered. Bilateral relations began to gather momentum at the end of August when Prime Minister Putin attended the opening of the Russian-Chinese oil pipeline. In September, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization kicked off its Peace Mission 2010 exercise in Kazakhstan. This was followed by President Medvedev‟s state visit to China in the name of “comprehensively deepening Russian-Chinese strategic partnership relations.” All of this occurred against the backdrop of heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula after the sinking of the South Korea Navy ship in March and the rapid deterioration of China-Japan relations after Japan‟s seizure of a Chinese fishing boat in early September.
  • Topic: NATO, Communications
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Kazakhstan, South Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, Thailand
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Career
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The final three months of 2008 saw relations between the two Koreas continue to worsen, as they had since South Korean voters in December 2007 elected the conservative Lee Myung-bak as their next president, ending a decade of rule by liberals. Official ties remained frozen as Pyongyang media continued to heap childish insults on Lee. Upping the ante from words to deeds, but also shooting itself in the foot, from December the North placed restrictions on cross-border traffic and expelled most Southerners from the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), just north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). But the end of the year brought a possible way forward, with hints from both sides that they are considering a deal where the South would pay for the release of abductees and prisoners of war held by the North. It remains to be seen whether this will fly or how soon the two Koreas can tone down the enmity stoked over the past year. Meanwhile, nongovernmental interaction continues, albeit on a far smaller scale than during the former “Sunshine” policy.
  • Topic: Government, Communications
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea