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  • Author: Liudmila Zakharova
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The New Northern Policy, proclaimed by the South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Vladivostok in September 2017, is designed to boost economic cooperation between Russia and South Korea. However, two years after a special presidential committee was created to plan and coordinate joint economic efforts, few results have been achieved. Bilateral trade has continued to increase with limited change to its structure: Russia mostly sends its mineral resources to South Korea and receives industrial products in return. New ROK investment in the Russian Far East has yet to occur, despite South Korea’s efforts to assist its businesses in finding profitable Russian projects. Seoul tried to convince Moscow that concluding a free trade agreement in the near future is necessary for intensified cooperation, but Russia prefers a more gradual approach to trade liberalization. InterKorean rapprochement in 2018 laid a foundation for further progress in the implementation of multilateral economic projects involving Russia if the international sanctions against North Korea were to be eased. Therefore, bilateral relations between Russia and the ROK can also be viewed from the perspective of promoting regional cooperation with North Korean participation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Bryan Port
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: A coherent North Korea strategy must proceed from a theory of North Korean politics, strategy, and decision-making. Structured analytic techniques, particularly the analysis of competing hypotheses (ACH), are instrumental in developing a theory and strategy. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs serve a blend of internal and external purposes. A successful strategy that renders North Korean denuclearization must account for both types of purposes, determining which of the two are predominant. Applying ACH can assist in making such an assessment, setting a level of confidence, designing a strategy, and determining measures to assess the analytic foundation of the strategy and the measures used in executing the strategy. This paper tees up four potential hypotheses intended to explore North Korean intentions and assist in developing strategy. However, the intention of the paper is not primarily to make a case for a given hypothesis, but rather to explore the method in the hope that others may find the method useful and apply it to the important undertaking of North Korean denuclearization.
  • Topic: International Relations, Weapons , Kim Jong-un, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jeffrey Robertson
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: During 2017-18, international attention turned to the Korean Peninsula as the threat of conflict reached new heights. This led to an explosion in the growth of “North Korea watchers”— the community of scholars, analysts, government officers, NGO advocates, and journalists who commit a portion of their lives to following events in North Korea. Divides emerged in overlapping regional, professional, institutional (political), and linguistic differences that saw individuals take conflicting positions on key issues. This paper investigates just one of these divides—how language and culture impact policy discourse on North Korea. The study explores language as a source of division in the North Korea watching community. It uses Einar Wigen’s argument that international relations should be conceptualized as inter-lingual relations, which suggests that despite the narrowing of political vocabularies, residues of politico-cultural differences remain in how concepts are contextualized into discourse, even between close partners. The study assesses compatibility between English and Korean language conceptualizations of North Korea, through an assessment of core inputs into policy discourse. The study then discusses the implications for U.S.-South Korea relations, and ongoing efforts to strengthen Korean Peninsula security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel Wertz
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign has led to the imposition of a nearly comprehensive international sanctions regime targeting North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. With negotiations underway, the question of whether to provide North Korea with partial sanctions relief in exchange for limited concessions on its nuclear program has been a major point of dispute between Washington and Pyongyang. This paper looks at sanctions as a form of coercive bargaining and examines the logic and challenges behind a strategy of incrementally exchanging relief from pressure for compliance with the sanctioner’s demands. It argues that taking an “all-or-nothing” approach to sanctions relief risks missing an opportunity to reduce the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program and squandering hard-won negotiating leverage, and outlines a framework for how a step-by-step approach might proceed.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Jin Linbo
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This chapter draws a rough sketch of the evolution of Chinese views on Korean history in the Cold War era in three parts. The first focuses on the formulation of Chinese views of the Korean War in 1950 and the mainstream assessment of the war after Sino-South Korean diplomatic normalization in 1992. The second focuses on China’s attitudes and policies toward the two Koreas in the Cold War years. The third deals with the changes and limits of perceptions on Korean history after diplomatic normalization and their impact on bilateral relations between Beijing and Seoul. For centuries many Chinese have firmly believed that the relationship between China and the Korean Peninsula is like that between lips and teeth, they are not only close to but also dependent upon each other. If the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold. From the middle of nineteenth century, the geopolitical proximity and interdependence between the two have become the determining factors in formulating Chinese perceptions towards Korea. Since then the national security concerns symbolized by the sense of lips and teeth had been frequently stressed by some Chinese intellectuals and officials when both China and Korea were exposed to the growing imperialist expansion and geopolitical competition in East Asia. In order to maintain the traditional tributary relationship between China and Korea, China fought the first Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95. Although it was miserably defeated, and Korea was consequently annexed to the Japanese empire in 1910, the Chinese sense of lips and teeth remained undiminished. Rather, it was further strengthened among ordinary Chinese when the Cold War began and especially when the Korean War broke out in 1950. After the end of World War II, China faced a new situation on the peninsula. Korea was liberated from Japanese rule but soon divided into the Soviet backed socialist North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and the U.S. backed capitalist South Korea, the Republic of Korea (ROK). As a newly established socialist country, China naturally allied itself with the Soviet Union and viewed the DPRK as a close friend while regarding the United States and ROK as hated foes. The intensified Cold War confrontation between the two camps and two Koreas triggered the outbreak of the Korean War. In order to safeguard its own political, ideological, and security interests, China quickly got involved in the war by sending the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (CPVA) to fight together with its DPRK friend against their common enemies. The war ended with a cease-fire armistice and created a friend and foe Cold War framework, which the new China was compelled to face even beyond the Cold War era. Under these circumstances, the majority of Chinese held the view that it was the capitalist enemy rather than the socialist friend who started the Korean War with a view to overthrowing not only the socialist government in Pyongyang but also the similar one in Beijing. Therefore, it was against this background that China’s attitudes and policies toward the two Koreas in the post-Korean War era were doomed to be ideologydriven and DPRK sympathetic.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, History, Korean War
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Kirk W. Larsen
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: In July 2014, Ambassador Qiu Guohong in preparation for Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul stated that the “relationship between South Korea and China couldn’t be any better.”1 Among the many reasons for this—economic, geostrategic, cultural—was a shared sense of history. China and Korea, officials and commentators in both nations claimed, were close because of their agreement regarding the significance of their experiences as victims of foreign, particularly Japanese, imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. History, that constellation of memories, stories, and notions about the past, has often been deployed to reinforce conceptions of identity, to support certain courses of action, and to demarcate between the in-group and the other. But history is ever malleable and protean. Not only do individuals, institutions, and ideas change but so does the understanding of them. When one draws on the past, one inevitably focuses on a limited set of events or narratives that best serve one’s interests—to the exclusion of potentially equally valid candidates. Their utility can vary over time; one need only think of how figures such as Zheng He or Confucius have been imagined and re-imagined over the last century. This has been the case with the history of relations between China and Korea from the latenineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. For many Chinese, Korea has served first as a subject of contestation as China’s position in Korea was challenged by both Western and Japanese powers. Then, when it became increasingly clear that China (or the Qing Empire) was losing this contest, Korea became an omen of China’s own fate absent significant course changes. As Japan’s growing empire engulfed Korea and subsequently threatened parts of China, resistance served to bring China and Korea closer; many in China celebrated what they saw as courageous resistance to Japan—such as when An Chunggun assassinated Ito Hirobumi in 1909. Shared status as victims of Japanese imperialism in an age of “humiliation” brought the two closer, and the mutually shared memory of “humiliation” has been deployed by contemporary Chinese and South Korean leaders—Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye—to foster greater levels of cooperation. However, past conceptions of China, Korea, and the Sino-Korean relationship have sometimes ranged far afield from the cherished tropes of humiliation and the struggle for independence. Even seemingly universally agreed upon symbols, such as An’s heroic 1909 assassination, find themselves subject to changing interpretations such as recent emphasis by some on his pan-Asian vision of Sino-Korean-Japanese cooperation rather than his bold anti-Japanese act. As interests and priorities change, so does the utility of any particular historical narrative.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Imperialism, History
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Gilbert Rozman
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: At the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), we foster connections to advance United States-Republic of Korea ties. Through bringing together people with an interest in topics of importance to this relationship, KEI works to further mutual understanding between our two countries. With a whirlwind of new developments in the region, sharing ideas now is of even greater importance. Our 2018 Academic Symposium, through which we endeavor to bridge the academic and policy communities, contributes to understanding crucial questions in the Asia-Pacific. KEI held parts of our Academic Symposium at two conferences this year for the first time. We were pleased to return to the International Studies Association (ISA) annual conference for two panels in San Francisco, California. The conference featured over 6,000 international affairs scholars from around the world with a wide range of research interests and regional specializations to present papers and hold discussions on contemporary issues. We were also pleased to contribute a panel presentation to the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) conference in Washington D.C., which included nearly 4,000 researchers from various disciplines focusing on Asia throughout history. And, for the third year as part of our Academic Symposium, KEI hosted a fourth panel in our own conference room. Marking seven years of collaboration, KEI again turned to the skills and insights of Dr. Gilbert Rozman, the emeritus Musgrave Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, to serve as the Editor-in-Chief for this Joint U.S. - Korea Academic Studies volume and as an advisor to KEI’s programs at the ISA and AAS conferences. This partnership has once more brought together an excellent group of scholars and practitioners. The experts in this volume have thoughtfully addressed themes that are pervasive throughout Asia and are timely for the U.S.-Korea alliance. South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May 2017 with ambitious plans for diplomatic initiatives, but faced challenges from both home and abroad in implementing them. How President Moon has pursued his foreign policy options so far is explored in the first section. As China looks ahead to playing a larger role in region, the second section reminds us of how Beijing’s past relationships on the Korean Peninsula play a pivotal role in its outlook towards Seoul and Pyongyang. The penultimate section examines how key regional stakeholders are seeking to advance their trade interests in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s break with international economic policy norms. In the final section, the authors attempt to make sense of North Korea’s outreach in 2018 by each analyzing its possible strategies. Whether our connection with you is new or continuing, we hope you enjoy the 29th edition of the Joint U.S.-Korea Academic Studies volume.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Stephen Blank
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The sudden announcement of a North Korea-U.S. summit in March 2018 upended all previous diplomacy concerning North Korea’s nuclear program. In return for a bilateral presidential summit, Pyongyang has agreed to suspend testing of its nuclear and missile programs and accepted the continuation of scheduled U.S.-South Korea exercises as planned. While this unexpected development reduces tensions and opens up a political path to a solution on the Korean Peninsula, it also imparts increased urgency for a well-conceived U.S. diplomatic strategy so that the summit and any ensuing negotiations lead to positive outcomes for Washington and Seoul and the other interested parties, thus ensuring its sustainability. In this context, the author advances an assessment of the current situation and a proposal for a U.S. program that could reduce military tensions in and around Korea, lead to the stabilization of a new and legitimate equilibrium in Northeast Asia, and advance shared American, South Korean, and Japanese objectives.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Weapons , Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: John Grundy
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The historical legacy of North Korea is characterized by occupation and conflict, and economic rehabilitation and then collapse, with tragic and widespread consequences for population health. From the standpoint of the historical determinants of health, this paper reviews the health system in North Korea between 1953 and 2016. Ideology and political relations have been dominant forces in determining the evolution of the health care system and population health. Despite the development of an extensive primary health care system in the country from the early 1960s following the establishment of the DPRK state in 1948, the public health system experienced a major decline in the 1990s, with catastrophic implications for the health and survival of the population. In recent years, evidence has emerged of some important public health gains, particularly through immunization, women's and children's health, and communicable disease control initiatives. This experience demonstrates that, within the overall policy context dominated by the historical and political determinants of health, there remains the capacity for implementation of public health programs that can yield both tangible health benefits for the population in North Korea, as well as assist the health system to edge closer to a regional standard.
  • Topic: International Relations, History, Ideology, Public Health
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea