South Korea-North Korea Relations: Not Getting Better

Aidan Foster-Carter
Content Type
Journal Article
Comparative Connections
Issue Number
Publication Date
April 2011
Center for Strategic and International Studies
The first four months of 2011 saw no real improvement in relations between the two Koreas. Their sole official contact, military talks in February, broke up in acrimony after two days. A slight easing of South Korea's aid restrictions in April was in response to dire humanitarian need in the North, and probably does not indicate a wider thaw. There was the hint of back-channel talks, but no progress. The obstacles are familiar. Pyongyang's peace offensive as the year began did not impress Seoul as it failed to deal with two stumbling-blocks: the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. The North continues to deny all responsibility for the former and insists it was provoked into the latter. This appears to be a recipe for stalemate, perhaps for the rest of Lee's presidency, which ends in February 2013 – although in Korea surprises are always possible.
Political Geography
South Korea, Korea