US, South Korean Presidents Meet to Confront the Pyongyang Quandary

US, South Korean Presidents Meet to Confront the Pyongyang QuandaryNorth Korean success in test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4 puts the new South Korean government in the difficult position of having to appear tough while still looking for dialogue with its northern rival. With that launch ringing in his ears, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in had already laid the groundwork for…

Vestiges of a Friendship Between North Korea and Cambodia

Vestiges of a Friendship Between North Korea and CambodiaWith its white walls shimmering under the tropical sun and its yellow roof pointing towards the sky, the Angkor Panorama Museum could be an awkward shopping mall stranded on the outskirts of Siem Reap, the provincial city on Tonle Sap, 320 km from the capital Phnom Penh. Instead, it is a brick-and-mortar testament to the…

Russia’s Take on the North Korean Crisis

Russia’s Take on the North Korean CrisisThe current crisis on the Korean Peninsula was unexpected for Russia and raised serious concerns that both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump could recklessly push the situation over the brink. However, the probability of an open military conflict is still low and the pressure to solve the North Korean…

A New Look at North Korea

A New Look at North KoreaThe Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been in the news a lot lately, with the DPRK testing new missiles and the United States moving a naval strike group off the Korean peninsula.  The commentary almost always revolves around strategic issues, especially North Korea’s nuclear program. But in focusing so narrowly on the country’s military and…

Trump’s Meddling in Asia

Trump’s Meddling in AsiaUnited States President Donald Trump’s focus on North Korea is playing into Chinese hands and, by default, further weakening the US position in a Southeast Asia increasingly subject to Chinese carrots and sticks. Trump’s “war” on the North makes little sense either at a time when the South seems about to elect as president Moon…

Tension Ratchets Up on Korean Peninsula

Tension Ratchets Up on Korean PeninsulaDonald Trump and Kim Jong-un are engaged in a game of intimidation and one-upmanship that has China, desperate for stability on the Korean peninsula, warning that tensions could spin out of control. Kim, audaciously pushing the envelope, and Trump, the beneficiary of a tutorial from Chinese President Xi Jinping, may yet escalate from rhetoric to…

Malaysia’s N. Korea Ties Now a Major Embarrassment

Malaysia’s N. Korea Ties Now a Major EmbarrassmentWith the recall of North Korea’s ambassador in the wake of the murder of dictator Kim Jong-un’s elder half-brother, Malaysian authorities may want to rid themselves of a relationship that has blossomed since the two countries opened reciprocal embassies 34 years ago and has become embarrassing to say the least. Kim Jong-nam was allegedly murdered…

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim Killing

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim KillingSouth and North Korean diplomats are battling to persuade Malaysian authorities of diametrically different versions of the February 13 Kuala Lumpur International Airport assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who had exiled himself out of a well-founded belief he could be murdered. One result may have been to stall the investigation,…

Trump Appointees Rattle Rockets

Trump Appointees Rattle RocketsThe incoming US defense secretary, James Mattis, made headlines in the US by differing from President-elect Donald Trump in his harsh assessment of the aggressive policy of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, but lost in the verbiage was his measured view of the rhetoric of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. If Mattis,a retired four-star Marine general, described…

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…
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