Search

You searched for: Publishing Institution East Asia Institute (EAI) Remove constraint Publishing Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI) Political Geography South Korea Remove constraint Political Geography: South Korea
Number of results to display per page

Search Results

  • Author: Young Ho Kim
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: On January 5, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama paid a rare visit to the Pentagon and unveiled his guidelines for the Department of Defense to set the goals and priorities of its defense strategy for the next ten years. The resulting eight-page-long guidelines, entitled Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense (hereafter DSG), contain the administration’s assessment of changing global security conditions and propose the roles and shape of the U.S. armed forces for the coming decade. Prepared through “unprecedentedly” close consultations between the President himself and senior leaders in the U.S. defense department and military including both service chiefs and combatant commanders, the DSG defines the present as a historic “inflection point” and envisions the future U.S. military as “smaller and leaner, but agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced.” Moreover, in accordance with the DSG the U.S. defense budget will be cut by $487 billion and the sizes of the Army and Marine Corps will shrink by 80,000 and 14,000 respectively over the next ten years. While a more detailed picture will be revealed next month with the administration’s FY2013 budget request to Congress, the DSG reflects the Obama administration’s arduous effort to rebalance and redirect its defense priorities and spending under severe fiscal austerity. Because of the unusual timing of its publication and the magnitude of the reduction in defense spending, the DSG has generated controversy and concern domestically in the United States as well as internationally. In the United States, particularly people in the conservative wing of the Republican Party have been prompted to criticize the guidelines for putting the nation’s security in danger, whereas some people on the liberal side have advocated seeking deeper and bolder cuts in defense spending. Internationally, China was understandably the first to respond negatively to the DSG. For example, rebutting the DSG’s portrayal of Beijing’s military policy as lacking transparency as “groundless and untrustworthy,” Liu Weimin, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stressed that Beijing was committed to peaceful development and “defensive” policy. What then are the implications of the DSG for South Korean security? Will there be any changes in U.S. defense policy or posture in the region under the DSG that may affect security conditions in South Korea significantly and, if so, require new measures or scrutiny by the South Korean government or the military? In fact, there have been largely four issues raised by the news media in South Korea. I will examine these four issues, and then discuss more challenging concerns that will require closer attention by South Korean foreign and security policy-makers.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrei Lankov
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: Few people would doubt that the continuing rise of China is the single most influential factor in the evolving geostrategic position of Korea. Over the last 35 years, China has experienced a period of rapid economic growth which is probably without parallel in world economic history, and this period is not over. While China is still far from being in a position to challenge global US hegemony, it is quite possible that it will play a dominant role in East Asia, especially if ongoing changes in the world economy press the US into reducing military spending and downsizing its global role. Indeed, in the last few years China loomed increasingly large in issues of the North Korean politics. Some of the most controversial political problems of present-day Korea are clearly related to China’s rise. The fate of the Jeju naval base, whichever is officially stated, largely depends on whether Korea will eventually chose to balance against or bandwagon with rising China. The problem of the forced deportation of the North Korean refugees attracted much attention of the Korean public to the issues of human rights in China – perhaps, first time when such issues are discussed widely. It seems that the rise of China will present Korea with many a difficult decision. In some cases, confrontation is likely to develop, but usually some kind of compromise is, probably, the best option. Like it or not, most problems in East Asia cannot be effectively solved without cooperation with (or at least the passive support of) China. This is the case with the major long-term issue of Korean politics, that is, the issue of Korean unification.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Hegemony, Geopolitics, Leadership
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Sang-Hyun Lee
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: On March 26-27, 2012, South Korea successfully held the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. This was the largest diplomatic gathering ever held in South Korea with fifty-three countries and four international non-governmental organizations participating. Alongside the summit, President Lee Myung-bak held twenty-seven bilateral talks which helped to elevate South Korea’s international role. The Seoul Summit has been judged to have produced a more concrete outcome that has strongly supported the achievements made at the Washington Summit in 2010. The result is the Seoul Communiqué, which states that nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy are the shared goals of humanity while also reconfirming the commitment to seeking a safer world for all and sharing the objective of nuclear security. Moreover, the communiqué stresses the fundamental responsibility of all countries, consistent with their respective national and international obligations, to maintain effective security of all nuclear material, which includes nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities under their control, as well as to prevent non-state actors from acquiring such materials and from obtaining information or technology required to use them for malicious purposes. The communiqué further reaffirms that measures to strengthen nuclear security will not hamper the rights of states to develop and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. With North Korea’s nuclear threat still overshadowing the Korean Peninsula, the summit had some meaningful implications. South Korea will have undoubtedly enhanced its national image from passive recipient to an active rule-maker in international norms. In preparing for the summit, the South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) focused on comprehensive and action-oriented measures under the belief that by only transforming political commitments from the Washington Summit into action would guarantee the success of the summit. As a result, the Seoul Summit has demonstrated that the promises from the 2010 Washington Summit have now advanced to fruitful outcomes. The seventy-two commitments from that summit have now been almost realized with only a few still to be finalized. In addition, the Seoul Summit has proven itself to be the transition point for global nuclear security moving from political declaration to concrete implementation. The summit itself has also widened its agenda including nuclear safety, the safe use of nuclear energy and radioactive materials, therefore able to address some of the key issues raised following the Fukushima accident. Despite the achievements, some limitations are evident when looking at the preparations for the summit and its aftermath. In the build-up to the summit in South Korea, there were problems in communication between state and people. While the summit is dedicated to preventing nuclear terrorism, some questioned why South Korea was hosting a summit that did not address issues closer to home such as the North Korean nuclear issue or the U.S.-Korea nuclear energy agreement controversy. Such criticism required strong justification of why South Korea was hosting the summit. Another area of difficulty was that nuclear security itself actually lacks a clear definition even among experts. To cope with such questions, MOFAT sought for advice and creative ideas by hosting advisory board meetings during the preparation for the summit.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Summit
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Chang-Hyun Jung
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: The East Asia Institute takes no institutional position on policy issues and has no affiliation with the Korean government. All statements of fact and expressions of opinion contained in its publications are the sole responsibility of the author or authors. The new stage of North Korea’s leadership succession began with the rise to power of the third generation leader Kim Jong-un. On 15 April 2012, the newly-appointed First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Jong-un made his first public speech during a military parade to commemorate Kim Il-sung’s centenary. It was the official announcement of the opening of the Kim Jong-un regime toward the world. A series of political events from the Meeting of Party Representatives to the Kim Il-sung centenary celebrations clearly show that the third generation of leadership is emerging as a new core power group backed by the second generation. This move means more than just a generational shift in North Korea’s power structure. It indicative of possible changes in policy lines on its internal and external affairs. Kim Jong-un conducted political reshuffles before and after the Meeting of Party Representatives in April 2012, as part of actions to implement a moderate shift in generation and to firmly secure his control over the military. Since smoothly establishing the hereditary succession process, Kim Jong-un not only moved toward assuming political leadership but also swiftly acquired a firm grip on the power elites in the party, government, and military by reorganizing and uniting power elites. It would seem Kim Jong-un’s rule is stable, at least in terms of power structure. The power structure of the Kim Jong-un regime has turned out to be a single leadership where the country is ruled by one strong man rather than a collective leadership. Instead of having “specific figures” as a regent or a guardian through a decentralization of power, North Korea seems to prefer to support the new supreme leader through “collective consultation.” The policies designed and implemented during the last three years of Kim Jong-il’s rule were in fact intended as a policy transformation process to prepare preparation for Kim Jong-un’s rule. These policy directions have been maintained since Kim Jong-un came to power. His first public speech on 15 April can be translated as an announcement on limited changes for a “knowledge-based economy.” This established a new period while inheriting the values of Jaju or independence from the Kim Il-sung era and Songun or military first politics from the Kim Jong-il era. In particular, Kim Jong-un emphasized the significance of “peace,” by stating in the speech, “for our party and the Republic’s government that consider powerful state construction and people’s livelihood improvement to be their general goal, peace cannot be more valuable.” Under Kim Jong-un’s rule with the keyword of “knowledge-based economy,” North Korea is expected to place priorities on improving people’s livelihood and will take on more flexible policy decisions from 2013 when the next administrations in South Korea and the United States will be established. As such it is an inevitable option for North Korea to rebuild its economy and attract foreign investment. Against this backdrop, the administrations in South Korea and the United States should not pressure North Korea but rather wait and respond calmly until the policy lines of the Kim Jong-un regime on economic change and openness are clearer. Above all the first priority should be placed on stable management of North Korean issues, given that many of the participants of the Six-Party Talks will enter into power transition process at the end of 2012. First, the U.S. administration needs to resume contacts with North Korea in order to implement the Leap Day Deal in which Pyongyang would place a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests, as well as freeze its nuclear programs. If the diplomatic pressure from the international community successfully leads North Korea to give up its nuclear activities and ease tensions, it would create the right environment for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Second, it will be worthwhile establishing contact through high-level channels to develop a clearer picture of what are Kim Jong-un’s intention regarding North Korea’s nuclear activities. In providing new opportunities for the North Korean leadership, a policy shift by Pyongyang may take place. Third, it is important that the Lee Myung-bak administration reopens channels for inter-Korean talks even at low-level so as to not leave too much of a burden for the next administration. Offering to hold inter-Korean family reunions for the second half of the year 2012 would be a good start. Fourth, the next administration in South Korea should be committed to establishing a more sustainable North Korean policy that can maintain consistency regardless of any power shift by comprehensively reflecting public opinion during a time when conflict among South Koreans on approaches toward North Korea is becoming worse. Whoever comes into power in South Korea after the presidential election, the main agenda of inter-Korean relations will be on the next inter-Korean Summit. Kim Jong-un has already expressed his willingness to talk, stating “(we) will go hand in hand with anyone who truly desires the country’s reunification and peaceful prosperity.” If the third inter-Korean Summit can be held in 2013, it would be a significant breakthrough in building confidence between two Koreas and solving the North Korean nuclear crisis as well as making progress toward peaceful coexistence.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Authoritarianism, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Haejong Lee
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: Alliance is an instrument for national interest, which is dependent upon the international environment and defined by domestic, democratic political processes. This commonsense notion of alliance was not fully embraced by the incoming South Korean administration of Lee Myung Bak in 2008. For the Lee administration, South Korea’s alliance with the United States was much more than an instrument of foreign policy. The alliance embodied South Korea’s political identity and was severely damaged by the preceding Roh Moo Hyun administration’s anti-American, pro–North Korean policies. The restoration of the Republic of Korea (ROK)–US alliance was both the goal and key to its national security strategy of Global Korea to enhance South Korean’s influence, contribution, and stature on a global scale. Thereafter, in a circle of the alliance’s cheerleaders in both Seoul and Washington, the alliance has almost taken its own life: the alliance should be protected from disruptive political forces and modernized/adjusted/expanded into new dimensions for the preservation of the alliance itself. In the post–Cold War years, the United States has tried to modernize its military alliances in order to preserve its influence at reduced costs. The Barack Obama administration had to mend US alliances strained during the George W. Bush administration’s war on terror. In 2009, Presidents Lee and Obama agreed on “a comprehensive strategic alliance of bilateral, regional, and global scope, based on common values and mutual trust.” The so-called Great Recession, triggered by the fall of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008, has both brought to power and bedeviled the Obama administration; 9/15 has become a new historical marker, replacing 9/11. The very “common values” of the ROK-US strategic alliance—democracy and market economy—have been put to the test; the worries and cries over the decline of the US have arisen once again. In May 2010, the Obama administration published its national security strategy of national renewal and global leadership. Nation-building at home was the primary goal of and imperative to national security. Along with moral leadership to “live” American values, global architecture to embed both allies and challengers in US-centered institutional networks became a new feature of American global leadership. “The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century,” asserted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September 2010 at the Council of Foreign Relations, the oldest bastion of American global leadership. She went on to declare that “the complexity and connection of today’s world have yielded a new American moment, a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways.” Confirming that “the 21st century will be another great American century,” President Obama argued at this year’s Air Force Academy graduation ceremony that “we have laid the foundation for a new era of American leadership.” Global Korea, with a comprehensive strategic alliance and a free trade agreement with the United States and hosting of a G-20 meeting and nuclear security summit, has been an integral part and a success story of American global architecture. The Lee administration was awarded with the first two-plus-two (foreign and defense ministers) meeting in 2010, which had been previously held only with Japan, and a state visit to Washington in 2011. “The relation between our two countries has never been stronger,” commended Secretary of State Clinton in this year’s second two-plus-two meeting. Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin confirmed the 2015 operation control plan and expressed commitment to make “the alliance the best alliance in the world.” American Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lauded an ongoing trilateral collaboration, including Korea and Japan, to deter North Korea as “another way to strengthen and modernize our alliance.” It is widely disputed that the Obama administration has seized a new American moment and laid the foundation for a new American century. The Obama administration has been beset with rampant unemployment and snowballing deficits. “The Moment of Truth,” a bipartisan commission’s report on the financial crisis, issued a warning in 2010 that it is imperative to raise revenues and to cut both defense and nondefense spending—in short, a complete overhaul of the existing American national security state and social welfare system. However, the political polarization of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street and resultant partisan gridlock have foiled nation-building at home and led to the first downgrading of the US credit rating and a self-made financial cliff of sequester—mandatory across-the-board budget cuts in the next ten years beginning January 2013. Against its lean and mean years, the Obama administration’s rhetoric of a new American moment or century rings hollow. In contrast, the positive—it couldn’t be better—evaluation on the state of the ROK-US alliance is widely held. Nevertheless, the alliance’s success does not resonate with a (far from positive) strategic reality facing South Korea; nor does the alliance translate into a smooth-working component of American global architecture. The Lee administration has doubled down on its alliance with the US. With the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” or no policy toward North Korea, the Lee administration has succeeded in punishing/isolating North Korea but failed to prevent the latter’s development of nuclear capacity, not to mention the latter’s denuclearization. Or, to put it differently, when it comes to nuclear issues or power transition, North Korea has been on its own, with no South Korean leverage over the latter. Most critically and tragically, Global Korea’s prime moment of hosting a G-20 meeting in November 2010 (in the midst of the final renegotiation of a Korea-US free trade agreement) was followed by North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, which in turn led to a joint Korean-US military exercise including the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and which was opposed by China. In the G-20/Yeonpyeong moment, the Lee administration succeeded in synchronizing its strategic and comprehensive alliance with the US and global contribution but rather miserably failed to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and manage its relationship with China. On the other hand, the ROK-US comprehensive and strategic alliance does not dispense with politics among allies; nor does it develop into a trilateral cooperation of the United States, South Korea, and Japan. The Lee administration has been at odds with the United States on the issues of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing and missile development, albeit much out of public scrutiny. In addition, the Lee administration has recently confronted Japan with the territorial issue of Dokdo and Japanese colonialism, along with a public relations campaign, including President Lee’s visit to Dokdo in August 2012. This was an abrupt turnabout from its attempt to share information with Japan on North Korea through a military accord—a trilateral collaboration that Panetta mentioned as a way to modernize the ROK-US alliance. Faced with a public uproar against the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the Lee administration canceled the latter’s signing ceremony at the last minute and turned to confront Japan, which reciprocated with its territorial claim and disavowal of historical responsibilities for colonialism, and even a threat to halt financial cooperation. In sum, despite of (or because of, if you will) the much touted success of the ROK-US alliance, South Korea is now in a diplomatic wilderness, isolated from all of its neighbors—North Korea, China, and Japan. Why? It is, I argue, because President Lee’s Global Korea was a vision for a bygone, pre–Great Recession, and pre-G-2 world. As long as the United States confronted an assertive China with allies and new partners, South Korea’s strategic alliance with the United States could serve both the former’s security interests and the latter’s regional architect. The sinking of the Cheonan happened in the context of such confrontations of the United States and China over the South China Seas, which led to the rescheduling of transfer of operational control (from the United States to South Korea) from 2012 to 2015 that had been requested by the Lee administration. However, as the United States began to embrace China and both deemed it necessary to contain security tensions on the Korean Peninsula, an assertive South Korea against North Korea and China became a liability to the United States, and South Korea’s strategic, global, comprehensive alliance with the United States became superfluous, if not necessarily inimical, to South Korea’s local and regional interests. Such was the case after the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. Following is a reconstruction of an anticlimax of Global Korea in the historical contexts of the Obama administration’s struggles to forge a new American global leadership.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, G20, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Yeo
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: How significant are trilateral relations in Northeast Asia? Does increasing trilateral cooperation between China, Japan, and South Korea undermine existing U.S. bilateral relationships? Can Japan and South Korea use trilateral relations to hedge between the United States and China? Or do these middle powers help create a buffer between great power rivals by establishing trilateral relations with both the United States and China? This essay explores trilateral cooperation in East Asia paying particular attention to developments in trilateral relations between China, Japan, and South Korea. Although trilateral cooperation among Northeast Asian states will likely continue to grow, proponents of U.S. bilateral alliances need not be alarmed about such trends. Taking a positive-sum view of trilateral relations, policymakers should encourage trilateral developments, whether they include the United States or China, to the extent that such institutional arrangements facilitate cooperation and trust-building at the bilateral and multilateral level. This essay is organized into four sections. In the first section I provide a brief overview of trilateral cooperation between China, Japan, and South Korea. I also present data available from the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) website indicating trends and patterns in trilateral relations since 1999. Section two discusses the relative political significance of trilateral cooperation within Northeast Asia and its limitations. The focus here is on the micro-foundations of trilateral cooperation. Section three places the TCS and the Trilateral Summit in a broader strategic context. I address trilateral cooperation in the context of geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China and East Asia’s developing institutional architecture. Section four concludes by arguing that trilateral initiatives are not zero-sum. Although some policymakers fear that traditional U.S. allies may drift closer to China as trilateral cooperation expands, the TCS and Trilateral Summit are but one set of institutional mechanisms situated in conjunction with or on top of bilateral alliances.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Nae-Young Lee, Han-Wool Jeong
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: In 2010 there were two major North Korean provocations against South Korea as tensions mounted on the Korean Peninsula and in the broader region. Following both the sinking of the ROK Navy corvette Cheonan and the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, there has been a process within South Korean society to clarify where the responsibility lies and to find an appropriate direction for coping with a more aggressive North Korea. The way that politicians and the media have analyzed the situation has mostly been based upon a dichotomy of ‘war vs. peace.’ Public opinion on the other hand has displayed ambivalent attitudes toward war or peace, preferring to allow for both concepts to exist rather than choosing one over the other. The South Korean public does not support either appeasement policies that hold back from retaliation or hard line policies that could lead to a full-scale war. In the short term, the public shows mixed views toward improving inter-Korean relations. For the long term, however, the majority of the public favors that the government redirects its tough stance against North Korea toward more dialogue and cooperation. However, it should be noted that there is a growing opinion for maintaining hard-line policies against North Korea even for the long term. The EAI and Hankook Research, as part of its monthly Public Opinion Barometer, surveyed eight hundred people from around South Korea on November 27, 2010, four days after the attack on Yeonpyeong Island. The results of the November Public Opinion Barometer survey formed the basis of the EAI Issue Briefing on Public Opinion entitled “The Impact of North Korea’s Artillery Strike on Public Opinion in South Korea” which summed up the characteristics of public opinion after the incident . This Issue Briefing will use the results from that survey to provide analysis of the shifting public perceptions on policies toward North Korea.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Public Opinion, Conflict, Survey
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: Not since the visit of Deng Xiapoing in 1979 has a Chinese state visit attracted so much attention as President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States on January 19, 2011. After a rocky year in U.S.-China relations following President Barack Obama’s visit to Beijing in November 2009, attention naturally focused on the future direction of the relationship between the two countries. Further attention imbued with curiosity also centered on how a relatively declining United States and a rapidly rising China would shape the world order in the long-run. Also following North Korea’s provocations in 2010, the world carefully looked for any strong emphasis on the issue of the Korean Peninsula as a regional challenge. There have been two different interpretations in regards to the results of the U.S.-China summit: an optimistic outlook that the two countries will become cooperative partners and move forward as underscored in the Joint Statement, and pessimistic views that the two powers will merely continue the repeated pattern of conflict and check that they have been doing since November 2009. A similar mix of opinions prevails in regards to the Korean Peninsula. Some expect immediate improvement in inter-Korean relations and the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, while others criticize the U.S.-China summit for barely papering over the cracks. However, neither hasty optimism nor gloomy pessimism is appropriate at this time. There is a need to utilize a comprehensive response strategy, which goes beyond narrow political understandings, based on a precise analysis of the results of the summit.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Hegemony, Summit
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sook-Jong Lee
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: States form images of each other based on assessments of each other’s material capabilities or on interpretations of each other’s intentions. Images matter in the foreign policy making process since they form popular public opinion on official policies and, in more basic ways, construct people’s identity toward other countries. Some images are more transient and therefore manageable. Remarks by foreign leaders, official documents, or media coverage tend to belong to this category. States try to make their images favorable in the minds of a foreign audience through their public diplomacy efforts. On the other hand, some images are more fundamental and hard to change, so that foreign policies are pressed to operate within their perimeter. Political ideology, religious orientation, and accumulated bilateral historical experiences tend to form these more durable images. Today’s globalized world has witnessed the rise of the Internet as an important medium constructing popular images of a foreign country. As mass communication across countries becomes more open and instant, foreign policy makers face the increasing challenge of controlling information flows and separating foreign policy agendas from domestic interests. Citizens with less direct contact are more prone to embracing popular images mediated by mass media. Elites, in contrast, who have more direct contact and knowledge, tend to have more rationally interpreted images of foreign countries. Formerly, elites used to monopolize foreign policy inputs. In the porous world of today, however, it is difficult for elites to resist and persuade popular opinion, which is more emotionally driven. This challenge is felt in China, where the leadership is sometimes at odds with irrational populism. In this respect, it is important to understand Chinese images of South Korea. How do elites and ordinary citizens of China hold South Korea in their political imagination? What are the implications of Chinese images of Korea for Seoul’s China policy?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Globalization, Regional Cooperation, Populism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Kyung-Young Chung
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: The year 2010 saw heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula triggered by North Korea, as shown by the sinking of the Cheonan warship and the artillery attack against Yeonpyeong Island. Some experts, even some within the intelligence community, estimated that through these efforts Kim Jong-eun was attempting to strengthen his power in the succession struggle. North Korea’s provocative actions, however, while internally motivated, repeatedly force South Korea to pay a ransom to support three generations of succession within the royal Kim family, and create an almost insurmountable problem for the South. Defining the Yeonpyeong Island incident is critical to the national security posture of the Republic of Korea (ROK). Conducting an exercise of artillery fire against a specific target is one thing, but attacking South Korean territory is a different thing altogether. The latter implies an invasive action, a deliberate attack to secure a series of strategic objectives waged by limited warfare. In the context of North Korea’s provocation, the conflicting, competitive, yet also cooperative relationship between the United States and China had both a direct and an indirect impact on the Korean Peninsula. The ROK's weak, vacillating reaction against the North Korean provocation clearly revealed the ROK military's limitations in countering the North Korean threat. Since dealing with a provocative scenario has a tremendous impact on how the ROK responds, a comprehensive reassessment of the North Korean threat is imperative. Taking account of the complexity of power politics as well as North Korea's provocations, this briefing will explore a potential provocative scenario, which will be developed on the basis of Pyongyang’s intent, its capability to inflict threat using asymmetric war-fighting assets, and the North Korean perception of South Korea's political, social, economic, and military vulnerability. Finally, the briefing will make policy recommendations in terms of security and defense posture, international cooperation to deter North Korean provocation, and examine how to promptly and effectively deal with future crises in the event of any further military action from the North against the ROK.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Conflict, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea