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  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The quarter started off well with the first meeting of Presidents George W. Bush and Lee Myung-bak at Camp David in April. The two leaders emphasized common values and the global scope of the alliance. They reached an agreement to maintain current U.S. troop levels on the Peninsula, which appeared to be an attempt by conservatives in Seoul to reverse the unfortunate trend they saw during the Roh-Rumsfeld era where each side was perceived as whittling away at the foundations of the alliance for disparate reasons. An important but understated accomplishment was Bush's public support of Lee's request to upgrade the ROK's foreign military sales status. Should this request be approved by the Congress, it would amount to a substantial upgrading of the bilateral alliance relationship as it would give Seoul access to a wider range of U.S. military technologies similar to what NATO and other allies like Australia enjoy. Finally, the two governments inked a memorandum of understanding on security improvements necessary to enable the ROK's entry to the U.S. visa waiver program.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, Korean Peninsula
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Lee Myung-bak administration committed to the establishment of a “strategic cooperative partnership” with China during Lee's inaugural visit to Beijing as the new president of South Korea. The visit occurred on schedule in late May, coming only weeks after the tragic Sichuan earthquake and in the midst of protests in South Korea over Lee's decision to allow imports of U.S. beef. Those events also quickly overshadowed a late April flap during the Olympic torch relay in Seoul over Chinese students who came to cheer the torch but reacted violently to Korean groups protesting Chinese government treatment of refugees and political suppression in Tibet. PRC Vice President Xi Jinping, China's designated successor to President Hu Jintao, made his maiden international visit to Pyongyang where he met with North Korea's top leaders, including Kim Jong-il and affirmed the importance of the Sino-DPRK relationship. As host of the Six-Party Talks, China received North Korea's declaration of its nuclear programs on June 26 in what really was a formality given the critical role of U.S.-DPRK talks in paving the way for the declaration. Nevertheless, the submission of the declaration did set the stage for the reactivation of Six-Party Talks in Beijing. Hyundai-Kia opened a new factory in Beijing and SK Telecom responded to strategic changes in China's telecommunications market by diversifying its investments in various Chinese multimedia companies in pursuit of a “convergence strategy” for delivery of multimedia, computer, and telecommunications applications to Chinese consumers.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, South Korea, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Japan's relations with both North and South Korea improved over the past quarter. In conjunction with the North's June declaration of its nuclear activities, there was renewed momentum in resolving the two biggest pending bilateral issues between Tokyo and Pyongyang – the North's nuclear development program and the abduction issue. Bilateral talks resumed in mid-June after more than six months of no progress. The second quarter also marked a fresh start for Tokyo and Seoul as President Lee's Myung-bak's visit to Japan – the first since December 2004 by a South Korean president – marked the resumption of so-called “shuttle diplomacy.” The summit between Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo and President Lee produced agreements on several bilateral issues, including the stalled bilateral FTA negotiations, closer coordination on policy regarding North Korea's nuclear development program, and youth exchanges.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The big news in the penultimate quarter of 2008 centered on leadership ills (literally) in North Korea and Pyongyang's rolling back of the six-party denuclearization agreement. On the U.S.-ROK front, President George W. Bush made his last trip to Asia of his presidency, stopping for a brief visit in South Korea on his way to the Beijing Olympics. While the free trade agreement (FTA) remains mired in U.S. domestic politics, important low-key agreements were reached to help bolster the people-to-people aspects of the alliance. As the quarter ended, the Bush administration was making preparations to make what some described as a last ditch effort to salvage the aid-for-denuclearization deal with North Korea by sending Six-Party Talks negotiator Christopher Hill to Pyongyang for a third time.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Beijing, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Career
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Relations between the two Koreas, having already worsened from April when North Korea took umbrage with South Korea's new president, Lee Myung-bak, deteriorated further during the third quarter. This may have been inevitable. In a break from the “sunshine” policy pursued over the past decade by his two liberal predecessors, Kim Dae-jung (1988-2003) and Roh Moo-hyun (2003-08), Lee had signaled that henceforth expanded inter-Korean cooperation would depend on progress in denuclearization under the Six-Party Talks (6PT). Not only did this linkage displease Pyongyang in principle, but the current 6PT stalemate and North Korea's proclaimed restoration of facilities at its Yongbyon nuclear site, have made inter-Korean progress difficult given the Lee administration's conditionalities. And yet, and yet. By early July, his popularity plunging barely four months into his five-year term (after the U.S. beef import protests and a series of gaffes), the president formerly known as “bulldozer” was ready to try a different tack. On July 11 he told the new National Assembly – elected in April, but only now convening due to inter-party wrangles – that “full dialogue between the two Koreas must resume.” He also renewed his offer of humanitarian aid.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: July 1, 2008: Sources in Seoul say the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has asked both Koreas that their athletes march together during the opening and closing ceremonies at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. July 3, 2008: The DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) denounces the ROK for officially commemorating the sixth anniversary of what it now dubs the “Second Yeonpyeong Naval Battle” on June 29, calling this a provocation. six ROK sailors died in a border clash when fired on by DPRK vessels. July 6, 2008: In Seoul, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – a former ROK foreign minister – offers to play “a facilitator role” in improving inter-Korean relations.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Beijing, South Korea, North Korea