Asia in 2016: Korea

Asia in 2016: KoreaSouth Korean President Park Geun-hye was stripped of her executive powers after the country’s legislature voted for impeachment in December, the culmination of a year of political scandal that saw massive protests in Seoul and other major cities in the last quarter of 2016. Park’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, was detained on charges of extortion and…

South Korea’s Park Isn’t Going Easily

South Korea’s Park Isn’t Going EasilyThe struggle to get South Korea's President Park Geun-hye out of the Blue House and into jail while unifying behind a single liberal to replace her looms as the hard part after her impeachment last week by a lopsided 234-56 vote in the National Assembly The populist protest against Park’s rule, far from having been…

Trump’s Korean Conundrum

Trump’s Korean ConundrumWhen President-elect Donald Trump met with Barack Obama in his first conversation since the US election, the outgoing president warned him that one of the biggest crises he faces is on the Korean peninsula, where Kim Jong-un’s penchant for nuclear adventurism could flare up during the US Presidential transition. It’s difficult to say, however, which…

South Korea’s Park Faces Existential Question of Survival

South Korea’s Park Faces Existential Question of SurvivalThe spectacle of protesters against President Park Geun-hye in central Seoul merely carrying candles in paper cups may appear a peaceful protest, but they have a far greater chance of success than enraged crowds in other countries.  The crowds are calling for nothing less than Park’s resignation. She is targeted in one of the worst…

South Korea’s President Faces Crisis over Spiritual Mentor

South Korea’s President Faces Crisis over Spiritual MentorHillary-gate was never like this. The Democratic presidential candidate may have got rid of more than 30,000 emails, but was she beholden to a spiritual mentor, and did she make off with untold millions? That's the story revolving around South Korean President Park Geun-hye's close friend , Choi Soon-sil, on suspicion of having siphoned off…

Party Infighting Undermines Korean Democracy

Party Infighting Undermines Korean DemocracySouth Korea goes to the polls tomorrow (April 13) with the 300 seats of the unicameral National Assembly up for grabs. But the election itself has been overshadowed by the declining popularity of President Park Geun-hye and intense infighting within the ruling Saenuri (New Frontier) Party between pro- and anti-Park camps. Part of the malaise…

Opinion: Former US Ambassador Laments ‘Failures’ on North Korea

Opinion: Former US Ambassador Laments ‘Failures’ on North KoreaI often refer to North Korea as "the longest running failure in the history of US intelligence." I can say that because as a CIA officer, I fruitlessly pursued the North Koreans for many years. As a diplomat, I can also say that North Korea has been almost a total failure of our diplomacy. As…

South Korean Democracy: Crisis Coming?

South Korean Democracy: Crisis Coming?South Korean democracy is a paradox. Unlike many other young democracies in Asia and other parts of the world, it is characterized by relative stability, a working judiciary and, with a few striking exceptions, respect for human rights and civil liberties. Korean governments have become responsive and accountable to the public. Moreover, the idea of…

Is Korean Unification Possible?

Is Korean Unification Possible?The outset of 2015 has seen a spate of new developments on and around the Korean peninsula. However, the interests of Washington and Seoul are subtly out of synch. The Sony hacking was a major watershed in the history of cyberwarfare: a highly-destructive attack on an iconic Japanese company operating on US soil. The Obama…