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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